The cooperative has 140 members, including employees and members. The main products are produced from citrus: orange, bergamot and lemon. The annual production is estimated at 2,500 tons, between fresh food and processed or industrialized.
The Ecocitrus was created in a social and economic context not so adverse, but it appeared to decrease the dependence of farmers suffered from the intermediaries and industry. The cooperative sought from the beginning to work with a new philosophy of agricultural production, different from the traditional, involving issues related to sustainability. From the point of view of the dimensions of social innovation the approach between farmers in cooperative format has caused changes in their social relations. Furthermore, generated growth and development for the members and for the whole region.
By working with the precepts of social and solidarity economy, Ecocitrus cooperative is part of FBES (Brazilian Solidarity Economy Forum), which in turn is linked to RIPESS, as the Brazilian representative. The FBES is a network that is organized in Brazil in over 160 municipal forums, micro-regional and states, involving more than 3000 projects of social and solidarity economy. Being located in the city of Montenegro, the cooperative is part of the Forum of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state of Brazil. This cooperative was created to work with the concepts of sustainability and solidarity economy in order to reduce social inequalities and difficulties facing by the small farmers. Since its founding the precepts were: collective work, solidarity economy and development of the region. It is clear, therefore, a strong ideological relationship with RIPESS.
The institutional context in which the cooperative was created was an absence of government incentives for the consolidation of a strong family agriculture. Members of the cooperative are small farmers, many of whom were abandoning the camp life by the lack of incentive to family agriculture. In the 90s they began the public policy programs to encourage these families.
The story began with a partnership between the government of the Brazilian State of RS and GTZ, to stimulate family farming in Brazil. The learning was the mobilization of the producers, the new organization and the creation of a group identity.
In 1994, the producers organized themselves into an association to work on the principles of social and supportive economy. In 1998, a new legal form was created and farmers introduced new, organic and sustainable forms of production.
The CTP was important for redefining the real goals for Ecocitrus. Moreover, it was a process of empowerment of producers who decided to increase the size and scope of Ecocitrus.
Ecocitrus went through a period of internal conflicts, power struggles and games for exercising democracy. The conflict was important to empower the group, generate knowledge about democratic practices and seek more equal conditions for everyone involved.
The agribusiness project allowed producers to begin closing the entire citrus supply chain. This CTP demonstrates the importance of cooperation so that producers achieve autonomy and independence, without relying on intermediaries to process the fruits.
Important to establish relations with different actors and the principles of sustainability at which the cooperative aims. This was the last process to complete the supply chain domain in a process of collective decision-making and new ways of doing their job.
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