An empowering example of a collective organization fighting to control their own future

Flor de Cana is a sugar producer co-operative located in the Sigchos region of central Ecuador. They are co-operating to diversify the local economy and generate employment, to raise living standards, and to offer a future for the youth of the region.

Their story

Flor de Caña is a sugar producer co-operative association located in Palo Quemado, a small rural town located in the canton of Sigchos of the Cotopaxi province, in central Ecuador. 

During years, they have grown and harvested sugarcane and produced with it ‘panela’, certified organic and unrefined whole cane sugar derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice.

Through their agricultural activity, more than 40 families of the area work for the diversification of their local economy and to build a better future for the youth of the region.

The sugarcane is the most productive permanent crop in Ecuador and it occupies the 7.33% of the total planted area in the country. It has multiple purposes and sub-products, such as panela, food for cattle or ethanol for vehicle fuel.

From Ecuador to the World

Flor de Caña was established in October of 2008 as an association of producers and sellers of panela.  Their main productive activity is the cultivation and the organic processing of cane sugar, an activity they have carried out in a artisanal way for years using their own lands, their own homes, handcrafted tools and their own families to make it a success.

Their long and thriving trajectory led them, at a given time, to work with a local non-profit organization called Maquita Cushunchic, who provided them training and the opportunity to close an agreement to put their product in the international market.  CEF started to support them in 2016, by providing access to organizational training and capacity building, support for the creation of a business plan and the resources to improve the technical and entrepreneurial skills of the association members.

In 2017, they managed to secure support from the provincial government of Cotopaxi for the construction of a plant to optimize the sugar production process. After this support was granted, CEF approved a second funding stage for Flor de Caña -under the terms of a loan and a grant- in order to cover the purchase of a quality control laboratory and personal protection equipment for the cane sugar processing inside their new plant.

They are currently building and equipping their panela factory and working to generate employment and to raise living standards. So far, they are selling an average of 7.200 sacks of panela per year, which is 360.000 kg annually, and bring them 396.000 USD of revenue per year.

Key facts


They grow and harvest sugarcane and produce organic whole brown sugar, also known as ‘panela’.

The association has currently 63 members, all them belonging to the Montubio ethnic group.  There are 29 women and 34 men.

This community organization was founded in 2008 and it is registered at the local Superintendence of Popular and Solidarity Economy.

They are located in the community of La Florida (Palo Quemado), canton of Sigchos, Cotopaxi province, Ecuador.

A life-changing venture for the communities in the region

Through Flor de Caña, the communities of this area have banded together and are co-operating to diversify the local economy through the production and export of panela.

The association is formed by 29 women and 34 men, all of them part of the Montubios ethnic group. Day after day, the families of this local community put their efforts together for the benefit of the economic development of the region. Their future steps include to increase the quality of the product, expand their own brand to the international market and achieve a fair price for its organic certified product, to improve the processing conditions of every producer in the association, and to prevent their youth from migrate to the big cities by providing them with a feasible work alternative.

Their ability to succeed in this venture will contribute to change the future of the local communities for the better, by making them less dependent on extractive and environmentally harmful economic activities such as mining.