This case highlights two universal principles of cooperativism:

• Education, Training and Information; 

• Interest in the Community.  

Through these principles, we approach the partnership that SICREDI develops since 2007 with CoperAmetista – Grape and sub products Producers Cooperative from Ametista do Sul, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. In the year 2006, after the SICREDI offered a training course entitled "Total Rural Quality", given by SEBRAE/RS to farmers of the municipality of Ametista do Sul, they founded a cooperative aiming at the application of the knowledge acquired in the course for the technical and economic development of their properties.

  

This initiative aimed to organize the production and marketing of grape “in natura" in this municipal to face organized markets and encourage and promote the industrialization, adding value to the raw material (grape) produced and increasing the income of agricultural properties. The initial list of associates in the cooperative was 28, going to 39, between the years 2007 to 2012. In 2015, 49 associated families were acting on the cultivation of grape and orange.

 

A - General Information

 

START: 06/2006 

END: 12/2015 

EXECUTING ENTITY: Credit Cooperative of Free Admission of Associates of Alto Uruguai – SICREDI Alto Uruguai RS/SC

PARTNERS: This process of inter-cooperation with CoperAmetista is developed with resources given by SICREDI Alto Uruguay RS/SC, therefore it has no financial partners. The company Somavilla Serviços Agropecuários e Ambientais LTDA is considered a supporter of this partnership, which aided CoperAmetista providing advise during the period of 24 months, all funded by SICREDI Alto Uruguai RS/SC.

PRESENTED BY: Eugênio Poltronieri

RESOUCERS: Own 

VALUE RANGE: Above US$ 25.000,00

CATEGORY: Reference unit

MAIN THEMATIC AREA: Agriculture

KEYWORDS: Cooperativism, associativism, family production, family farmers, family farming, development of markets, income increase, quality, scale production, adding value, SICREDI Alto Uruguai RS/SC, school feeding.

TARGET AUDIENCE: The target audience are the farmers of the municipality of Ametista do Sul and their families, who together founded the CoperAmetista cooperative. The direct beneficiaries are the members of the CoperAmetista, i.e. the producers themselves, as well as all the local population and, subsequently, the regional population that started to have access to quality local products.

LOCATION: Peri-urban area

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE: Municipal

MUNICIPALITIES OF THE MICROREGION: Municipality of Ametista do Sul, State of Rio Grande do Sul. 

 

B - Description of the practice

 

1- BACKGROUND

The idea of a cooperative organization arose in a context in which many grape producers were not accessing markets for the sale of their crops. Or else, the selling price did not cover the costs of production. The founding of CoperAmetista made the access of producers to potential markets easier, now featuring an organization that gave them lower costs for production and logistics, as well as scale and price for the production and adding value to raw materials.

One of the common practices at that time before CoperAmetista was the informal industrialization processes on the properties, limiting the commercialization, because the products did not have licenses. Organized as a cooperative, this practice was replaced by the associative production, advised by professionals and with proper trademark. Such facts took place, after participating in a training offered for free by SICREDI Alto Uruguai RS/SC. On that occasion, 28 families of small farmers, from the municipality of Ametista do Sul, with the need to absorb existing grape production in the municipality had the initiative to found a cooperative of grape and derivatives, in order to enable the provision of the product on a larger scale and quality to consumers.

This way, on February 27, 2007, CoperAmetista was founded, a cooperative that SICREDI Alto Uruguai RS/SC supported and assisted in its development, until the end of the year 2015.

 

2- GENERAL OBJECTIVE

Being a reference in the production of wine and grape derivatives in the region, through the development of associativism, adding value to the product and seeking continuous improvement and innovation.

Specific Objectives:

- Absorb the existing grape production in the municipality;

- Increase the income of household production;

- Offer the product on a larger scale to consumers;

- Offer a high quality product to consumers

- Expand regional vineyards and orchards;

- Organize the production of grape and orange juices; and

- Market juices, integrating them to the school lunch of the municipality of Ametista do Sul and the region of Frederico Westphalen, as a whole.

 

3 - SOLUTION ADOPTED

After the cooperative was formalized, SICREDI spent resources for the payment of a professional specialist in Oenology, with the goal of developing the technical work necessary for the proper development of the culture of grape, as well as its derivatives. Until the year 2012, CoperAmetista dedicated exclusively to the production of grapes and derivatives, in the municipality of Ametista do Sul, always supported financially by SICREDI through an agreement between the entities. 

From a new agreement signed with SICREDI Alto Uruguai - RS/SC in the year 2012, a technical assistance has been made available to CoperAmetista, with the purpose of organizing the production of grape and orange juice, the commercialization of these products, the management of the cooperative and its business and the sustainability of the institution, including, planning for expansion of membership.

In addition to the direct agreement with CoperAmetista, SICREDI has provided resources directly to the partners, for the expansion of vineyards and orchards and the funding of its activities to be possible. Today, CoperAmetista works in a building of 1,085.64 square meters located in the municipality of Ametista do Sul /RS, given in lending by the City Hall. The site houses all the equipment necessary for the production of wines and juices.

There a collaborative work with the associated happens, ensuring the workforce during the period of industrialization. Each family provides members who will produce the wine and this system of cooperation is fundamental in the success of the enterprise because the management of the enterprise is made easier due to the small number of members. Each member delivers the grape production and the cooperative carries out the industrialization. With standardized processes, it bottles and prepares the production for sale. The associated member keeps 60% of the profit, and weekly, members gather in the cooperative to evaluate the work, set goals and fraternize.

 

 4 - RESULTS ACHIEVED 

Ametista Parque Museu.   The members list of CoperAmetista went from 28 to 39, from 2007 to 2012, and in 2015, there were 48 families associated dedicated to the cultivation of grape and orange. The production of juice meets the needs of the school lunch of the municipality, the region and the State, through social programs of the State and Federal Government for its commercialization. The juices are also commercialized in a thematic shop kept by CoperAmetista at the Ametista Park Museum.

The families associated to CoperAmetista are also associated to SICREDI, where they find the financial backing to expand its activities. At the association (CoperAmetista), they find security for the production and marketing of their products. All the fruit processed by CoperAmetista is acquired from the members, and through the professionals provided by SICREDI, the members have updated technology and knowledge for their activities. In this way, the cooperative employs inter-cooperation to enable aggregation of income to their members and the communities in which it operates.

Nine years ago, CoperAmetista acquired authorizations for the commercialization of wines, and two years ago, in virtue of the Inter-cooperation project, CoperAmetista acquired the certificate with the Ministry of Agriculture that allows the commercialization of integral grape and orange juice. CoperAmetista has been excelling as regional reference in the production of juices and wines, with the aging of wine in ancient underground galleries, a system considered unprecedented and innovative, and installed in gems mining galleries (for a climate control of products considered ideal by experts).

Currently, the cooperative generates about 200 indirect jobs and 8 direct jobs, contributing to the development of the municipality and the region. There are 8 formal employees at the cooperative and periods of harvest offer, on average, 15 more temporary jobs. It should be noted also, that the cooperative depends on the labor of members in specific services during the off-season. During the grape processing period, the demand increases considerably, and all families help - combining the own property tasks with the work of the cooperative.

Regarding the production of grapes as raw material, the initial area of vineyards, in 2007, was 70 hectares. After several expansions, by the end of 2015, the vineyards had already surpassed the 100 hectares among the members of the cooperative. The production of grapes currently originates approximately 50,000.00 liters of wine/crop, and another 60,000.00 litres/year of juice. For the production of orange "in natura", the current planted area is 30 hectares, resulting in the production of 30000 liters/year of orange juice.

Currently, the municipalities that receive the cooperative's juices for the school meals are: Ametista do Sul, Planalto, Palmeira das Missões, Nonoai, Rio dos Índios, Rodeio Bonito and Caiçara. This, within the framework of the "food acquisition program" by CONAB (national supply company). About 47,000 liters of juice are supplied annually for the program Brazil Table by SESC in the city of Ijui, also in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

CoperAmetista meets the needs of approximately 100 commercial establishments in the region, including supermarkets, grocery stores, wineries and others.

 

5 - RESOURCES NEEDED

With the resources transferred by SICREDI Alto Uruguai - RS/SC, CoperAmetista payed the Enology technician, responsible for the production of wines and grape and orange juices, as well as acquired the equipment to start the production of juices, namely: 

 

a) Material Resources 

  • Grape Grinder;
  • Orange juice Extractor;
  • Grape juice Extractor;
  • Heat exchange system (boiler);
  • Juice pasteurizer;
  • Automatic bottling machine;
  • Cold control system; and
  • Pneumatic press.

b) Training services

Finally, consulting services were hired and paid directly by Sicredi, in order to promote:

  • Organization of production of grape and orange;
  • The commercialization organization;
  • Management of the business of the cooperative; and
  • Sustainability of the cooperative.

 

 6 - TRANSFER

 

In addition to the inter-cooperation with CoperAmetista, SICREDI has collaborated with other Cooperatives in the region, especially the Coogamai-cooperative of Miners of Médio Alto Uruguai. With this last entity, SICREDI has done for years, the payment of a mining engineer for the development of activities aimed at the legalization of the goldfields, health and safety of miners, as well as activities aimed at the preservation of the environment.

  

7 - LESSONS LEARNED

In order to foment the region, SICREDI Alto Uruguai (RS/SC) gives financial aid and technical training for various initiatives with regional entities. Derived from these actions, and based on the practices of inter-cooperation, cases such as CoperAmetista make perceptible several transformations and social, economic and environmental improvements in the target audience.

As an example, the growth of revenues and assets of the cooperative, the increase in hectares planted of grape and orange crops, the increase in the number of members and democratization in decision-making, organization in the administrative area and inventory and production control system. From these elements, one can perceive the improvements in individual incomes of producers, encouraging them to stay in agriculture in addition to family succession, increasing the quality of life for the whole family.

Indeed, there are improvements in the farms and in the residences, with the acquisition or exchange of leasehold improvements, thereby increasing the self-esteem of all family members. One can also see the environmental gains in course, with the adequacy of conditions laid down by the legislation and the reduction by streamlining the use of pesticides, as well as its correct disposal.

The main barriers identified in the process of construction of CoperAmetista, were, among others, the initial difficulties in obtaining capital and credit approval in financial institutions due to the impossibility of proof of income for the majority of the persons concerned.

 

 

The best time to visit coincides with the grape harvest and allocation of product to the cooperative, that is, between the months of December to March.
There is no restriction on the number of visitors or visitation hours.

 

 

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