The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines.
By Eduardo Rivera, Compañia Hondureña del Café (COHONDUCAFE)
During a recent weekly visit to coffee farms, as part of our support and monitoring program to coffee farms in Honduras, we came across small farm. Mr. Robinson Jimenez welcomed us into his home. He has been have been growing coffee for quite some time now, and until recently, he has been doing it without any technical training or information that you would find in a classroom.
A lot of coffee growers in Honduras grow coffee as how their father and grandfather did before them. However, this practice is changing. Climate change, economic factors, deforestation and other factors all play a role.
Our foundation, COHONDUCAFE, has provided technical assistance and training to over 18,000 coffee producers so far. We focus on making coffee a sustainable product. In the past, whenever we would go to Mr. Robinson’s farm we would see his small house, some tools here and there, and then, the coffee plantation. In time, we began providing them with agricultural practices that are best suited for their farm, focusing on soil analysis, pruning, reforestation, crop diversification, honey water analysis, and much more. Now, we can truly see him apply these good agricultural practices that have a positive impact in a sustainable way.
Being able to see the transition from a “before” and “after” is amazing. Especially seeing how they are now committed with themselves, as they have felt how this has changed their lives. Coffee productivity has increased, deforestation has turned into reforestation, and diseases that affected the family have been reduced due to proper waste management. This is what really makes us proud of the work carried out, to see the positive impact it has on the families.
Additionally to the work carried out within the coffee farms, assistance and support is provided to the schools in coffee growing areas, which needless to say, are in the most remote areas of the country (about a 3 – 4 hour drive). Construction and renovation of 4 schools have taken place, and 2 more schools will be constructed within the next few months. We believe that giving the new generations our full support and the necessary tools to prepare for a better future. Over 200,000 notebooks have been distributed to children.
One of our field technicians told us about his experience:
“I visited this school and the teacher said that some of her students hadn’t attended class because they didn’t have somewhere to write. I immediately gave requested notebooks for this school. The teacher provided the children with some pencils as well. Now, the children are back in school learning” – Miguel Rivera (Field Technician)
Honduras has a population of over 8 million people and its territory is 112,492 km, which is distributed in 18 departments, 15 of which are coffee producing. The COHONDUCAFE Foundation has a permanent presence in 12 departments all year long, in which we implement several projects, all of which are aimed to make coffee sustainable. Honduras is the largest producer of Arabica coffees in Central America and the third in the American continent, after Brazil and Colombia, respectively. For the current harvest (2016-2017), it is expected to reach production of 420,000 US Metric Tons (MT) of green coffee.
In socio-economic terms, the coffee sector is very important for the country’s development. More than 120,000 households depend on coffee, and more than one million people are employed in harvest season. According to the statistics of IHCAFE (Honduran Coffee Institute), 92% of producers are in the category of small producers with less than 5 hectares of farmland, of which 84% of farms are represented by men and 16% by women.
The Foundation was established by Compañia Hondureña del Café (COHONDUCAFE), the largest coffee exporter in Honduras. The company had always had social responsibility projects that were aimed to increase the livelihoods of the thousands of coffee growers in Honduras. In 2013, the Foundation was legally established and since then has been working proactively to make coffee sustainable.
The projects carried out by the COHONDUCAFE Foundation include: Technical Assistance and Training Program, Education Program, Research and Development Program, Access to Finance Program, Health Program, Monitoring & Support Program, Reforestation Program and Access to Market Program.
To see more sustainability initiatives across the coffee industry, visit the NCA Sustainability Showcase.