Garcia, Executive Director of Cooperative 4Pinos in Guatemala, was taking part in a panel discussion on Secrets of mutually beneficial and successful partnerships at IFAD’s GC2013 .
The mistake he was referring to was made by the cooperative when it first became involved with smallholder farmers and linked them up with export markets.
Garcia explained that before this, women from smallholder farming families were largely in charge of taking produce to local markets and managing the money that they made there. With the cooperative’s intervention, income from exported produce went to the men.
“The men used the income for buying horses, pickup trucks, more land, liquor,” Garcia said.
“That was a huge mistake we made,” he went on “but it has been corrected now.”
The cooperative now works directly with over 400 women and last year they exported US$2 million worth of produce.