The State Coordinator of Coffee Producers of Oaxaca (Coordinadora Estatal de Productores de Café de Oaxaca, CEPCO) was established in 1989. The primary cause that led to its formation was the major coffee market crisis, which was produced at an international level by the elimination of the economic clauses of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the drop in international coffee prices, and at the national level by the withdrawal of the Mexican Institute of Coffee (Inmecafé) from activities in support of Mexican coffee growers, which in the past had consisted of promoting coffee cultivation and research, training in production, processing, and marketing, and even financial support for growers.
CEPCO was formed by bringing together various organizations representing small growers from different regions of the state of Oaxaca (Costa Isthmus Mazateca, Mixtec, Papaloapan, Sierra Norte, and Sierra Sur). Some of the organizations already had several years of experience, and others were newly created.
We began as a movement that sought to make its voice heard and that proposed to coordinate actions to confront the crisis. In a very short time we grew and became a stable and permanent corporate organization, whose purpose was to take control of all activities performed by the government through the Inmecafé. We decided to become a corporate organization capable of controlling the entire coffee production chain, from cultivation to the direct marketing of our member's coffee, including those services inherent in the business, such as obtaining and managing credit and technical assistance, in addition to promoting projects for domestic food supplies, the full participation of peasant women, the diversification of production, and the struggle for indigenous rights. Thus, while we began as an organization exclusively concerned with problems related to coffee, over the years we have grown into a multipurpose organization.
At present, CEPCO is composed of 34 regional and community organizations. The organizations that make up CEPCA have their own daily activities in Oaxacaa's coffee-growing regions and communities. They bring together families from one or more communities and are grouped into "regional organizations" in order to participate in CEPCO. Thus, CEPCO's members are not individuals, but rather regional groupings of organizations that share a common territory and language. Therefore, the size and the level of organizational, economic, and political development of CEPCO's member organizations is very diverse. But despite the distinct personalities, diverse nature, and specific goals that each organization has, all share the same principles, practices, and programs.
Because one of our objectives from the start was to sell coffee directly at national and international levels, in 1990 our partners formed the Agricultural Marketing Agency of the State of Oaxaca Inc. (Comercializadora Agropecuaria del Estado de Oaxaca S.A. de C.V,, CAEO). After 18 years of existence we have made progress toward that goal, and now we have a relatively favorable market position, but to achieve this goal we had to take several steps. These include:
1. Making technological improvements in production.
2. Acquiring direct and ongoing information concerning market prices.
3. Creating a system to collect and transport raw materials from the communities to drying facilities and shipping centers.
4. Generating the agroindustrial capacity to process coffee while preserving its quality.
5. Building our own systems and diversified our financing.
6. Creating innovative business strategies to enable us to be more competitive.
7. Prosing public policies within government agencies and nongovernmental organizations for the development of a coffee industry that benefits producers.