Fighting poverty and respecting the environment
In Bolivia, fair trade and organic product chains began to develop in 1985. In order to structure this farmers’ movement, the Association of Ecological Producers’ Organisations of Bolivia (AOPEB) was created in 1991. This creation marked the first leap towards agro-ecological agriculture in this country, where the association remains a driving force in the development of sustainable forms of agriculture.
Today, AOPEB has 85 members, mostly organic producers’ associations and eco-social enterprises, bringing together a total of 70,000 organic producers in the nine departments of the country. About half of them are women.
AOPEB & SOS FAIM
SOS Faim and AOPEB are partners since 2003.
SOS Faim's current support focuses on two aspects of AOPEB's work :
- advocating for a legal framework in favour of agro-ecology and responsible consumption
- assisting coffee producers in the Caravani zone towards an agro-ecological transition
This second aspect consists of a programme to accompany producers while they renew their coffee plants into an agroforestry system. It includes training at "field schools", exchange visits and on-site technical assistance.
AOPEB has also developed a training school on the agroecological cultivation of coffee, which is aimed in particular at young producers and includes modules on social economy and cooperative management .
Over the years, AOPEB has acquired significant recognition, becoming one of the state’s point of contact on agricultural issues. It is currently one of the most consolidated national farmers’ movements and, as such, plays a key part in the implementation of laws in favour of sustainable family farming. In particular, its ability to influence has succeeded in revitalising the National Committee for Ecological Production. The CNAPE is a joint public-private unit under the government that is designed to draw up proposals in favour of sustainable agriculture.
The programme for renewing coffee plants into agro-forestry systems is in its third phase, and is very popular among producers. These systems increase the plants’ productivity as well as their resilience to diseases and attacks. This further diversifies farmers’ diet through the consumption of associated crops, and improves their income, as they are able to sell the surplus at local markets.
Furthermore, a partnership between SOS Faim and Exki, Coffee Team as well as Café Liégeois, encourages producers in rural areas, especially young people, in their entrepreneurial spirit. Every two years, a competition rewards the producers most committed to their agro-ecological practices, and encourages them to complement their coffee productions with other associated crops to diversify their sources of income.
What prospects ?
Given the growing place of the agribusiness sector, particularly in the east of the country, AOPEB will need to continue its advocacy work at the political level in favour of agro-ecology and sustainable family farming. Advocacy is not only carried out at the national level, but also at the local level, through the establishment of “ecological communities”.
The programme for implementing agroforestry systems in the Caranavi zone seeks to increase the number of producers involved in an agro-ecological transition.
More info on AOPEB