The agricultural cooperative "El Paraiso" from Sapecho/Alto Beni was founded in 2005 and has 11 members who are all farmers in Sapecho.
In 2010, the cooperative installed a production plant for natural fruit juice, focusing on citrus fruits, particularly oranges.
The idea of the cooperative is to add value to its agricultural goods compared to just selling the raw fruits. Besides natural juices, other fruit products might be created that should be competitive on the market in terms of quality, price and packaging, and thus increasing the cooperative's profits to ensure an increase of the life standard of the farmers and their families.
The plant is technically on a good level. The machines include a pulp remover for carambola, pineapple, mango, papaya, copuazu and other fruits, a water filter system, pasteurisation boiler, tetra pak filling machine, compressor, UHT heater, three phase electric unit and water tanks.
The plant can process 800-1000 liters or pure fruit juice per day during the months of June to November when there are enough fruits.
While the cooperative has perfect skills in the production of fruit juices and produces a high quality fruit juice, the members lack business, distribution and marketing skills.
At the moment the cooperative is selling the juice in small tetra paks to nearby schools at a price of 12-15 Bs. per liter, while the production costs per liter are 12-13 Bs. This means, no real profit is being made.
The cooperative contacted with large juice producers that buy large quantities of blocks of frozen fruit juice at their plants in cities such as La Paz and Cochabamba. However, in this case the cooperative would have to do further investment into deep-freezing technology and a vehicle. Also the prices paid by these large companies per liter of juice are not attractive enough to justify the investment and effort. The members of the cooperative are not experienced in how to negotiate their position in front of such large companies.
The cooperative has never worked on a market study about the Bolivian fruit juice market, which seems to be highly competitive with high quality fruit juices being sold at very low prices. The question is, whether it makes even sense for a small producer such as the fruit juice cooperative "El Paraiso" to compete on the market with a mainstream product such as orange juice, or whether it isn’t better to focus on niche products that might be sold with higher margins. These might be other exotic variety of juices, or products such as smoothies, ice lollies/popsicles etc.
A volunteer or capable intern could contribute to this very interesting project in a leading role, while at the same time learn a lot, and help the cooperative. The Bolivian fruit juice market needs to be understood to be able to make informed decisions. Should the cooperative sell juice to large companies or better directly to end consumers, or aren’t niche products more profitable? A business model must be developed. Volunteers/Interns in Sapecho should be able to communicate in Spanish, as nobody of the cooperative knows English or any other foreign languages.
In the tab "More Info", you can find a detailed internship report.
Location: Sapecho/Beni Alto, Bolivia
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Months
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: Average Spanish
With Host Family in the village of Sapecho
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Farmers
Minimum Qualification Of a Intern: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Relevant skills
Further Contribution To Project: None
Motivation, Do you have the "right" attitude?