Many Fairtrade cooperatives have used their Fairtrade Premium to advance farming practices, build schools for their children and improve their own livelihoods. The Coobana Cooperative, a banana cooperative in Panama, is choosing to invest in a different – but just as important – project.
Swimming in the waters of Central America are leatherback turtles, the largest sea turtle species in the world. Unfortunately within the past century, these ocean dwellers have become less and less common as a result of intense egg collection and unintentionally getting caught in fishing nets. Leatherback status is currently listed as Vulnerable, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are Critically Endangered.
The Fairtrade Premium is additional money paid on top of the market price of a product and delivered back to workers and farmers so they can democratically invest it into their communities however they choose.
By partnering with local NGO AAMVECONA (Association of Friends and Neighbours of the Coast and Nature), farmers and workers from the Coobana Cooperative are helping to conserve these turtles with a portion of their funding from the Fairtrade Premium.
In addition to building incubator shelters for the turtles’ eggs so they can hatch undisturbed from predators, Coobana members also volunteer their time to patrol the beaches at night during nesting season so they can protect the female turtles who come to the beach to lay their eggs.
AAMVECONA have been operating environmental education and conservation projects for the past 15 years with the support of multiple funders, and in 2016 Coobana joined as a funder, investing $7,000 of their premium in the organization’s project to conserve turtles.
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