December Coffee Deliveries Reflect Hard Work & Determination of Cooperatives
In December we received our first two deliveries of of coffee from the cooperatives of Santa Anita and La Suiza. Coffee delivery is an exciting time, with farmers unloading the coffee as their smiles reflect the pride and determination that has gone into producing the year’s crop to the highest standards.
The community of Santa Anita is situated in the department of Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala’s North-Western highlands. Founded by former guerrilla fighters and displaced persons who opposed the government during Guatemala’s violent and destructive 36 year-long civil war, Santa Anita is the smallest cooperative we work with, made up of just 8 members. In recent years the cooperative has been severely affected by roya (coffee leaf rust), a disease that has devastated coffee production throughout Central America.
Santa Anita’s production suffered last year and they were unable to export any of their coffee, but with support from De la Gente they are making a comeback in 2016. This year we signed a small contract with the cooperative, and their coffee will be available through DLG in the US market starting in July 2016. It was an exciting moment when Don Rigoberto and Don Mincho arrived in San Miguel Escobar with their delivery of just over 1,000 pounds of coffee. Santa Anita is still experiencing a lot of challenges with roya, but this is an important first step and we share their happiness at having achieved for the first time with De la Gente.
The following morning Don Maximo and Don Eriberto of the La Suiza cooperative arrived in the early hours to make their delivery. The community of La Suiza is located in the San Marcos department, also in the North-Western highlands of Guatemala. Like Santa Anita, this community is made up of displaced persons who came together after the peace accords to buy an abandoned finca (coffee plantation). A rough dirt road that requires four-wheel drive during the dry season and is almost impassable during the rainy season is the only point of access to the community. La Suiza has around 450 men, women, and children living in the community, all of whom depend upon coffee as their primary source of income.
Last year La Suiza made their first sale of about 2,800 pounds of coffee to De la Gente, and only about a fifth of the members in the cooperative participated. This year almost half of the cooperative members harvested and processed coffee for De la Gente and we will have 9,300 lbs of great La Suiza coffee landing in the US a few months from now.
For now, the coffee will be stored and milled at the San Miguel Escobar cooperative, and then be packaged and exported in March or April. Be on the lookout for these two coffees as well as the coffees from our other cooperative partners later on this year in the US and Canada.