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FOUNDED IN 1987, APPTA IS AN ORGANIZATION of small producers that works to improve the quality of life of its associates and of their community through efficient processes of industrialization and commercialization, protecting the environment and contributing to conserving the ethnic and cultural natural wealth of Talamanca and surrounding regions in Costa Rica. APPTA farmers produce cocoa, bananas, and other fruits. APPTA provides organic and fair trade certifications of their associates’ farms, collects the crops, and supports development projects and marketing of products.
Organic agriculture is the foundation of APPTA’s broader model of ecological conservation and sustainability. If agriculture is based on organic agro-forestry, soils are enriched, wild habitats are protected, and the health of the forest and community is preserved. In this way, the community enjoys a healthy, sustainable and regenerative livelihood for a better future.
In the cocoa drying, APPTA uses an industrial wood oven. The firewood comes from residual pruned trees that are maintained in the municipal area. In this way, the fuel source is completely renewable.
Fair trade certification provides many benefits to the Talamanqueña community. Fruit sale premiums are invested in social and infrastructure projects and provide benefits for everyone. APPTA carries out a new welfare or development project for the people every year.
APPTA has 900 associates, 90% of which are Bribri and Cabécar indigenous people and 38% are women. The advantages of being an APPTA associate are mainly that it allows producers to have collection centers, organic and fair trade certification, as well as development projects that guarantee that their products will be sold in the international market.
The supply chain of APPTA starts with the seeds. Every farmer conserves and sows his or her own seeds, grows them and then harvests the fruits. APPTA then collects the fruits, weighs them and pays every farmer right away. In the case of cocoa, following collection, the beans are then taken to the association’s pre-processing plant where they are fermented for six days and then dried. After about two months, APPTA can fill a container and ship it to buyers in other countries.
Everybody in the Talamanca region can be part of the association. The only requirement that the association poses is that every associate needs to have a sincere interest in producing crops using organic standards, contributing to biodiversity, and respecting Fair Trade criteria
Producers that are interested in joining APPTA have many ways to do it. They can go to the offices or directly contact the management members, who are producers from different communities. They can also create a connection directly through the product collectors or with the purchasing manager, who always walks in the fields, or with the head of the Internal Control System or internal inspectors. Or, they could express their interest during meetings held periodically in the communities.
The controls that are carried out are based on compliance with the Organic Standards and under the Fair Trade criteria. Members are required to follow a management plan that guarantees that they always comply with the code of conduct of the association and so protect the environment and the natural resources. The management plan takes also into consideration the accountability of the farmer members, incentivizing them to keep invoices or register activities on the farm. All the products purchased as organic must be from producers that are on the list of the certified members.
Once they are members, they are paid a bonus for their products and they may participate in development projects and training on production practices, certifications, and sustainable farming.