Bolivia- Cooperativa Agropecuaria Mejillones Ltda (Mejillones)

Members – 87
Location – Calama, Bolivia
Elevation – 1400 meters
Established – 1988
Coffee varieties – Catuai, Caturra
Diversification – fruit trees, bread baking
Average farm size- 7 Hectares

Cooperativa Agropecuaria Mejillones Ltda (Mejillones) is made up of 80 members located in the coffee capital of Bolivia, the lush forests of the Yungas region. The Yungas is home to the famous “Death Highway”, which follows the Andes Mountains as they transform from the dry Altiplano to the lush green forests of the Amazon rainforest.  This distinct region is the divider between these two climates and is home to some of the most fertile soil, and consequently where the majority of coffee in Bolivia is produced. All coffee that comes from the Yungas region must travel on these treacherous dirt roads to be processed and exported from La Paz.

As one of the “group of 8”, Mejillones works closely with FECAFEB to make more direct contact with buyers, as a means of receiving financing, as well as workshops and trainings on organic agriculture techniques, a better price, and social premiums. Mejillones itself has five agriculture technicians as well as their own cupping lab in Calama, a collection center, an export license, coffee plant nurseries, and a dry processing facility in El Alto, near La Paz. Because the coffee has to climb several thousand feet on their way to be processed in the capital and eventually exported, coffee is only dried in Calama until it reaches 16% rather than the normal 12%, and the coffee beans lose moisture during the ascent to the 13,600 ft elevation of El Alto.

Members of this cooperative migrated from the dry Altiplano region and their drought stricken land in search of the rainy forests of the Yungas region, carrying with them small coffee plants from the town of Coroico to begin a new life. Now Mejillones has grown to be a well developed cooperative in the town of Calama and farmers are able to focus on reforestation projects, health, credit, education and gender equity through their participation in the cooperative.