[Video Transcript] What Is a Coffee Co-Op and Why Do They Matter?

[Video Transcript] What Is a Coffee Co-Op and Why Do They Matter?

Seb: Hello and welcome to Turning Point from Timely Coffees. My name's Seb. I'm one of the co-founders here and this is a video series we use to talk about the different aspects of the coffee industry and our approach to them at Timely and how they impact us here on a day to day basis. So last week we released a coffee called Hasambo and and Giorgia released a great video to go along with that. And we didn't have a lot of time to talk about the different aspects of what being in a cooperative really means to producers. So that coffee was produced by 500 different producers, and they were all operating together as a cooperative. And we wanted to spend a bit more time talking about why producers might choose to do this, why producers might not choose to do this, and what else it could really mean for coffee production. So to go along with this, we've got a great article written by our friend Jane O'Neil, and that'll be linked to in the video notes. But a couple of things that we wanted to talk about was a couple of the advantages that go along with being in a cooperative as a producer and some of the disadvantages. So firstly, why would a producer choose to be a part of a cooperative? Well, it's going to be a lot easier to sell your coffee if you are only producing a very small amount on your own. So it was a cooperative. The growers, the producers, they're actually producing coffee themselves. They're growing independently. But when they're maybe processing or selling coffee, that's when all of the resources are pulled together.

Seb: All of the crop is pulled together. So if I'm a producer and I'm only growing 100 kilos of coffee, it might be really hard for me to sell that coffee at the market. But if I can conjoin my lot with 50 other people who are all growing 100 kilos of coffee, then it's going to be a lot easier for us to negotiate a better price. And conversely, it's going to be a lot easier for us to negotiate a better price on materials. So if I'm buying fertiliser, it's going to be a lot cheaper for all 50 of us to buy fertiliser together and then distribute it after the fact. Then as well is going to be better support because we can all pool our resources together, we can all invest money back into the cooperative and then by maybe logistics and infrastructure that is going to benefit everyone and increase the quality of all of the members of the cooperative. But in saying that a cooperative is by no means a perfect structure, and if it was, everyone would be a part of the cooperative. So a couple of the reasons people may not choose to do this is in a cooperative. While it is good that all of the resources are distributed for the greater good, sometimes there can be corruption in a cooperative. Whoever's in charge of the funds and the distribution can take advantage of this. And it's been reported in the past and it's actually probably a lot more widespread than people realise.

Seb: Also, if I am a producer and I'm a part of a cooperative and I'm producing 100 kilos, like I said, but maybe the farmer next to me who is only producing 20 kilos and we're both part of the same cooperative. We both get one vote on what's going to happen with the future and the funds of that cooperative as well. So it's not relative to how much we contribute, but it's every member gets a vote and that is not necessarily good or bad. You know, we don't really have an opinion on that at time, but it's just a fact of a cooperative, and this is how a lot of them are governed. It's definitely not the case for all of them, but it's it's the majority of governance in this way. That's the fundamental part of a cooperative. So these are a couple of the reasons why people would choose not to be a part of the cooperative. On top of this, there is there is a fundamental aspect of a cooperative which really inhibits traceability. So with a cooperative, with Hasambo, with Hasambo AMCOS like I was saying before, 500 producers in there, but there's not really going to be a way for us to find out the names of those people, you know, the. For us to be able to go and find out the, the exact producer's land or their conditions there. So it's going to be a little bit of a more challenging situation to get complete traceability all the way to the farm level. We can get it to the cooperative level and that's great.

Seb: And we might be able to get a couple of the key, key people's names, but we're not going to get a list of 500. And that's, again, like I said, neither good nor bad a cooperative is just another part. It's another structure in producing coffee and trying to sell coffee more fairly, in trying to make sure that it is as low risk as possible for producers. And it definitely has its place. But it's just important to remember that it is in no way a perfect system and it is in no way the only system out there as well. So this is just a little bit about cooperatives and there's a lot more to cover. And we really encourage you to do a little bit more reading. And we're really glad to see a lot more producers choosing to be a part of cooperatives, and that's a really big part of it for us that it is an. It's a producer's option as their choice to join the cooperative. And that is a really important part of what goes into us supporting cooperatives in that producers are actually choosing to be a part of that. So as a way of supporting their agency and we really want to make sure that we're supporting cooperatives. So this is just a little bit about it. Next week we've got another video coming out, nice, timely. And if you've got any questions, send me an email at SAB at Timely Coffees dot com, don't you? And otherwise I'll see you next week for another video. Thanks very much.

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