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Covilli’s Fair Trade program launches farmworker health clinic

NOGALES, AZ — Earlier this year the Fair Trade program of Covilli Brand Organics Inc. inaugurated a health clinic in Triunfo de Santa Rosa, which is the village where the farm is located, about an hour from Guaymas, Sonora. The project was three years in the making.

Iris Montaño-Madrigal, Covilli’s marketing manager, said the facility offers farmworkers — and local citizens — generalized medical services and dentistry. Very soon the facility will have specialized care.clinica-Covilli

The doctor and dentist working here conduct a combined 45 consults a day. Workers receive preference at the facility, which is also available to as many as 9,000 local citizens.

Montaño-Madrigal said the facility is especially important because it is so far from the nearest hospital, which is in Guaymas.

The project comes with top-of-the-line medical and dental equipment, which is owned by the farmworker association, she emphasized. By the end of 2018, Covilli Brand Organics paid over $850,000 in premiums to the association, which is named Nuchi Sansekan. The funds, of course, come from a premium paid at retail by consumers buying Covilli’s Fair Trade-certified products from Covilli’s retail customers.

“Nuchi Sansekan” is the Nahuatl-language expression of the English words, All Together. Many of the indigenous workers on the Covilli farm speak more Nahuatl than Spanish.

“We are very focused on preventative care,” said Montaño-Madrigal. There have been challenges because the Nuchi Sansekan Fair Trade committee “are new at this. Many had never seen a bank statement” before their peers elected them to represent the farm workers’ Fair Trade group.

She credits the worker-leaders for being fast learners and quickly gaining competence to serve their roles.

“This is a cultural shift. There was skepticism. The people are not used to being cared for. Especially the indigenous people. They feel that they are not valued, thus, there has to be a catch.” She added that these marginalized people little by little are making the shift.

 “In a nutshell, we’re thrilled,” Montaño-Madrigal said. “We’re stoked. I love what we’ve been able to bring to help them. They understand that we care. That we want to lift their lives and their children’s lives.

“This all comes from a few cents that consumers pay for our products.”

Covilli has an established day care and K-6 school for its workers’ children. “We just started a middle school and provide transportation to high school.”