Del Campo is an umbrella cooperative in Nicaragua with a membership of over 590 smallholder farmers who produce a wide range of products. The cooperative is striving to become as environmentally friendly as possible and has used recent funds to invest in solar energy, beekeeping, natural medicines and conservation projects. Juan Bravo is not only a member of Del Campo but has also been President of the International Nut Cooperative, a majority shareholder of Liberation, since 2017.
To begin with, can you tell us a bit more about being President of the INC?
Since becoming President, I have mainly been working on developing proposals for an integrated model for the INC to expand our networks and have more direct influence in the supply chain. I continue to present these propositions to the INC members with the aim of reaching a consensus from all – a difficult feat when considering the fact that INC members are stakeholders from all around the world with different cultures and legislations! But in the end, the idea is that the main participants in any change made should be the producers and consumers, and that the rest of us involved in the supply chains should be conscious facilitators.
Can you tell us a bit about Del Campo?
Del Campo R.L., is an umbrella for 7 cooperative members, located in the Pacific of Nicaragua, in the departments of Rivas, Leon and Chinandega. The cooperatives are dedicated to the production of peanuts, sesame, grains, honey and some livestock.
Being part of the INC with Fairtrade certification has enabled us to improve infrastructure within the coops, promote agro-ecological technologies and the production of bee keeping, integrate the use of renewable energy and develop vocational training programmes for the families of coop members.
What are your plans for the future of Del Campo and INC more generally?
Aside from developing an international integrated model for the INC, there is a focus on the effects that climate change is having on agricultural production and the environment, which not only affects production, but also the health of all the species that inhabit this planet. The INC are putting great effort into developing environmentally friendly technology to replace the large supply of polluting agrochemicals, which besides destroying our nature, are the main means for the decapitalization of small producers. The production and use of natural biofertilizers for soil and disease control are becoming common practice. In Del Campo we already use biofertilizers for the sesame, peanut, bean and corn crops.
How do you feel about the INC increasing ownership of shares of Liberation? (in 2020 the INC made a further purchase of shares)
I think that it is a great opportunity for small producers. It’s the first time in history that small producers are owners of their own businesses in Europe. And I believe that it is a great victory that has cost lots of work, lots of time, lots of effort and lots of people and it was worth it to celebrate that we are in this position now.