Fairtrade has enabled La Riojana to implement a wide variety of community projects that have benefited our workers and our members and their families, as well as the local communities where many of them live.
We started with the rebuilding of the water supply in the village of Malligasta – our first Fairtrade project.
This was soon followed in 2008 by the construction of a new drinking water supply for the remote village of Tilimuqui, where many of our members, workers and their families live, which still remains one of the most important Fairtrade projects we have ever done.
This was followed by the equally important funding and building of a new local secondary school, also in Tilimuqui, in 2010.
But whilst these may have brought the most attention we are also proud and pleased to have been involved in helping to fund a wide range of projects that continue to help our workers, our members and the communities in which they live.
Refurbishing the Cultural Club in Chilecito
A good example of an on-going project we have is the refurbishment of the Cultural Club in Chilecito, a vital communal meeting place close to our winery, which our members and workers were keen for us help them with.
We have been able to use money from La Riojana’s Fairtrade Premium to start work on the centre, which will not just benefit our workers and their families, but also the wider community in Chilecito.
Given the size of the undertaking, this project has been split into three stages, the first two of which have been completed.
First: The first stage involved the refurbishment of the top floor of the club, with the creation of a new administration and reception area, a media room, a computer / lecture room, a library, an auditorium, terrace, separate balcony and bathrooms.
- Second: The second stage has involved making improvements to the main entrance and gardens, as well as installing railings and improving the security.
- Third: The final stage will see the ground floor upgraded, a new refurbished dining room, installation of new bathrooms, and the remodelling of existing spaces.
New sports and recreation centre
La Riojana is also committed to using part of our Fairtrade Premium to help prevent young people from becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.
It is therefore hoped that the creation of a new sports and recreation centre, providing a large green open space dedicated to sport and social activities for our members and workers to enjoy with their families, can play its part in that.
The centre is currently being built on a three hectare site donated by one of the co-operative members. Once completed, the El Bosquecillo centre, which is located in the San Nicolas area only three kilometres away from the main winery in Chilecito, will have the capacity to serve some 3,000 people.
Facilities at the centre will include a camping area, a football pitch, a swimming pool, tennis courts, basket and volley ball courts, changing rooms, a caretaker’s house and security gates.
So far the centre has its own water well and has got a perimeter fence in place. The next stage will be to plant trees and install an irrigation system for the football pitch and the trees.
'Let’s Think Green’ project
As part of our strategy to help improve the living conditions for the local community we are also working hard to help our workers and members fully appreciate the environment in which they live. The Fairtrade Premium funded ‘Let’s Think Green’ project hopes to help raise awareness and the importance of caring for the local environment.
An initiative that has allowed La Riojana to supply our members with 1,000 trees to plant in public woodland where they live. We believe that planting trees is one of the most ecological ways in which we can all help look after the environment and that afforestation is a key way we can help repair its destruction.
Co-operative social centres
Co-operative members living in different regional communities have identified a need for a communal place where they can meet and use for social events.
La Riojana therefore has decided to invest part of the Fairtrade Premium in the provision of centres where its members will be able to host events such as parties, meetings and training sessions at no cost. La Riojana plans to build a co-operative centre in each of the six districts in La Rioja province where members live.
First co-operative centre in Pituil
Limits on funding means it will only be possible to build one co-operative centre at a time. The first chosen site is in Pituil, around 70km away from Chilecito and the main La Riojana winery. It has been selected because the local municipality has donated the land required for the project.
Once finished the centre will be able to be used by around 160 local people, including the 50 or so co-operative members and their families who live in Pituil.
Weighbridge for Pituil
A proportion of La Riojana’s Fairtrade Premium has gone towards the purchase of an electronic weighbridge for Pituil, enabling members to weigh the truckloads of grapes at harvest time. The weighbridge is due to be installed on the same land as the Pituil co-operative centre.
Distribution of fertilisers
La Riojana has also ensured part of its Fairtrade Premium goes towards buying and distributing free fertiliser to all of its growers and members, many of whom would otherwise be unable to afford it.
By allowing every member access to free fertilizers, La Riojana hopes to increase both the quality and quantity of the grape harvests for all of its members whilst boosting individual families economic fortunes in the process.
In addition to the distribution of fertilisers, La Riojana has also carried out a training program:
- to teach members about the fertiliser products themselves and the appropriate application techniques
- to make members aware of the need to take care of the environment and the health of their workers during the fertilisation program
Micro credit scheme
One of our many aims at La Riojana is to help support our workers and our members as much as we can.
We found that one of many problems faced by our workers was the difficulty of access to credit to help support their own family economy.
It therefore was seen as an important part of the investment of the Fairtrade Premium to set up a micro credit scheme, which would help provide access to credit and financial assistance to our workers, therefore helping to ease their finances.
Using the Fairtrade Premium, we set up the FORCRESOL fund for workers in 2010. The fund itself is rotating and it feeds from monthly instalments paid by its beneficiaries, therefore facilitating credit access to more people. The maximum amount of credit granted to any one worker is equivalent to their salary and the credit terms require a maximum repayment period of 9 months