Fair Trade– and organic-certified coffees from Nicaragua are fairly common, as many smallholder producers have organized themselves into democratically run cooperatives due to the small average farm size (1–10 hectares) and long history withcooperatives: The first cooperative of coffee growers was established here in the 1920s.
PRODECOOP – Jose Alfredo Zeledon
Cooperativa Multifuncional José Alfredo Zeledon (JAZ) is a small, democratically run association comprising 357 smallholder members in Madriz, Nicaragua. It is one of the cooperatives that make up the second-tier organization PRODECOOP.
Co-op JAZ was founded by only 35 smallholders in 1996, and has grown to now include farmers from 12 different communities in the area. A strong emphasis is up on electing leadership and representatives who are diverse and reflect the entire community: Its leadership structure includes a board of directors, supervisory board, a commission for education and promotion of cooperativism, and a gender commission. There is also a small extension service of 4 volunteer members, who provide technical assistance and agricultural guidance to the community; the extension service is run by a daughter of one of the producer members.
The co-op dues are used to provide members with tools, training, genetic material for coffee, a demonstration plot for educational purposes, and more.