Producer partner Manduvirá co-op recovering from mid-summer freeze
by Shannon Devine
In September, my colleague Martin and I visited our good friends from Manduvirá Co-operative in Arros y Esteros, Paraguay. Manduvira is a co-op of sugar cane producers, and is one of Camino’s longest standing producer partners, one with which we share a rich history.
During our visit, Martin and I learned that in July 2017, many farmers lost their sugarcane crops to a spell of frost lasting four days. Manduvira recorded a 30% loss. In Paraguay as a whole, it’s estimated that 40% of the annual sugar harvest has been lost. Even clients of the five biggest sugar-producing mills in Paraguay received only half of their contracted sugar volumes.
The Economy and Climate Change
Paraguay is the 4th most impoverished country in South America. Its economy is dependent on farming natural resources, making it especially vulnerable to climate change. Following the frost in July, the Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency.
Although Paraguay is home to a rich variety of ecosystems, they are disappearing at an alarming rate. In fact, the western “Chaco” region of Paraguay has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world. In July 2017, an area equivalent to 54,276 football fields was deforested, making matters even worse for local farmers.
Manduvirá’s Response to the Frost
Manduvirá is known for its extreme resiliency and resourcefulness. Within weeks of the frost, it launched a fundraising campaign in order to raise the funds needed to re-plant in time for the 2018 sugarcane harvest.
When we got word of their recovery plan, Camino invested $70,000 in their project. In addition to the funding campaign, Manduvirá established a strategic alliance with Co-op Montillo (another local organic fair trade sugar exporter). This alliance will allow farmers to share agricultural resources, thus reducing the impacts of future climate-related changes.
Over the years, we’ve seen climate change affect many producer communities. In these challenging times, Camino has supported our partners with preharvest financing and climate change relief whenever possible. Doing so is in our DNA. We look forward to keeping you updated on Manduvirá’s progress in the months and years to come.