Unión de Ejidos Profesor Otilio Montano (UDEPOM) is a cooperative of farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, focused since 1995 on producing Fair Trade and organic certified coffee and honey while contributing to the preservation of the natural resources of the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot.
UDEPOM’s 379 members are trained in environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural practices.
Verde Ventures approved a three-year, $250,000 rotating line of credit to UDEPOM in January 2008 for working capital to finance harvest costs as well as pre- and post-harvest expenses.
During the 2007-2008 coffee cycle, UDEPOM will help preserve 4,384 acres (1,775 hectares) near two biosphere reserves in Chiapas, Mexico: Pico de Loro El Paistal and el Tacana. This area represents a 60 percent expansion of an existing corridor of farms financed by Verde Ventures and reinforces conservation of one of Mexico’s remaining cloud and pine oak forest fragments, as well as lowland evergreen forest.
UDEPOM engages farmers and indigenous communities in reforesting and protecting on-farm forest remnants on more than 7,345 acres (2,974 hectares) of diversified coffee farms in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas.
With harvest finance from Verde Ventures, UDEPOM is working to further conservation measures by educating farmers about reserve area regulations, fire management and the impacts of hunting on Endangered species, as well as requiring that members prohibit logging concessions on communal lands.