The Mut Vitz cooperative is comprised of some 600 families from 26 communities in the self-proclaimed autonomous region of San Juan de La Libertad, located in the Highlands of Chiapas. Mut Vitz coordinates a network of 48 community promoters working to consolidate their own participative process for the transfer of technology and practical know-how for organic production. These promoters have led the cooperative through the organic certification process, and developed a shade grown coffee production system. The producers hope that by gaining direct control over the processing and sale of their coffee, they will be able to improve the standard of living and general well being of their members and communities.
A brief history of Coffee in Mexico: Coffee in Mexico, as in many countries, was originally cultivated on huge plantations. With the colonial politics and economic "incentives" offered to foreign capital during the reign of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, the expropriation of indigenous lands for transnational plantation coffee production was essentially guaranteed. The indigenous people who had been cultivating corn and other basic grains for their own subsistence were simply thrown off their land; and in order to survive without the basis for production, farmers were forced to convert themselves into (poorly) paid labor as coffee pickers for the plantation owners. It was not until the Cardenist Agrarian Reform 1934-1940, that land redistribution finally turned in favor of the local indigenous population. With the reform, the panorama began to change dramatically. The expropriation of plantation lands provoked the expansion of small-scale, or campesino coffee production. Today approximately 200,000 of the 283,000 coffee producers in Mexico are indigenous campesinos with land holdings of approximately 2 hectares. But these campesino farmers have learned that simply having acquired a little piece of land is not enough to escape the economic traps they historically have confronted. In 349 of the 411 municipalities in Mexico where coffee is currently being grown, the farmers themselves continue to live in a state of acute povery. Essential elements, such as production credits, coffee processing infrastructure and access to international markets, had been kept in the hands of the government and other big business.