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133. MICHIZA – Making sure its past has a future

MICHIZA is a coffee cooperative based in Oaxaca.  Its name tells you the story of its diversity.  MICHIZA is an acronym that reflects the names of all six of the indigenous groups to which its members belong: Mixteco, Mixe, Chinanteco, Chatino, Cuicateco and Zapoteco.

Coffee has been an important part of each of these traditions for generations – a source of both income and cultural identity.  Coffee has also brought its members together.  For more than 25 years, the members of MICHIZA have been working across ethnic and linguistic lines to ensure that they can pass on to their children the coffee traditions that they learned from their ancestors.

The challenges MICHIZA faces have changed over time.  When MICHIZA started back in 1985 with the support of the Catholic Church in Oaxaca, its was fighting exploitation of smallholders in the marketplace and working to build more equitable trading relationships.  Today, it enjoys strong relationships with some of the leading importers and roasters in the Fair Trade market.

Now, the biggest threat to its future is low productivity.  That’s why the members of MICHIZA have been working since 2009 on a renovation program that is replacing the coffee their grandparents planted with new trees that will be picked by their children.  They have enlisted trading partners, local government and aid organizations in their effort, which they see as the best way to ensure that their past has a future.

 

 

Name: MICHIZA

Established: 1985

Members: 730

Location: 6 regions – Oaxaca

Elevation: 600-1600 m

Volume: 4824 sacks (69 kg)

Certifications: organic, Fair Trade

MICHIZA’s coffee is imported in the United States exclusively by Cooperative Coffees and Royal Coffee, and in Europe by EZA, GEPA and Mitka.

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