2016 National Coffee Congress with Anacafé
Day 2 of the Coffee Congress event with leaders from all five of our partner cooperatives was the National Anacafé Coffee Congress in Guatemala City. We received a call late the night before, explaining that there were planned protests in the morning with groups of teachers blocking the main roads to and from the capital. With this knowledge, we set our departure time to 4:00am to ensure we would arrive for the 9:00am start time. The drive would normally take about an hour but when there are protests you never know how long you will have to wait so we figured better to go early before the roads are blocked. The group of 15 cooperative members and leaders from across all 5 of our partner cooperatives and the DLG staff arrived promptly at 5:00am - there was no sign of any teachers protesting, though they did block many of the main roads later that morning. We hovered outside of the Anacafe building in a gentle but chilling sleet for nearly 4 hours before the Congress even started, sipping warm beverages and huddled around a small grill women were using to cook tamales.
Asking the group if it was worth it? All would say, “yes. Definitely.” The Congress was inaugurated by the current President, Jimmy Morales, who discussed the amazing quality of coffee in Guatemala, as well as the country’s ability to unite and work together for a better future despite facing difficult odds, including the Coffee Leaf Rust which devastated Guatemala’s coffee crops for more than 5 years before gaining some control through government programs and international research, development, and funding.
The day consisted of workshops, tours of Anacafe’s coffee lab, discussions on conventional vs. organic farming practices, international development, quality control, and market access. Outside the conference rooms there were vendors of seedlings, organic and conventional pesticides and fertilizers, agricultural equipment for making the laborious days a bit easier, water pumps, and of course, coffee. Each person was able to find information on the things most important to them, as well as network with other growers, investors, vendors, and development organizations. With the protests still going on, and the long day behind us, we headed out of the conference at 4:30pm and made it back to Antigua by 7:00pm ready for an early night after a long day.
Day 3 was DLG’s turn to learn. Where does DLG excel and where does it need improvement? This was the first time members had the opportunity to have this discussion as a group, and it was eye opening, well received, and provided a pathway for DLG to continue doing the work we do while constantly trying to improve. This half day session was held at the roaster in San Miguel Escobar, where DLG staff received feedback from the group as a whole to discuss our strengths and weaknesses.
DLG could not have done this without you. DLG supports 100% of the travel, meals, accommodations, local transportation, admission costs, and conference spaces for the Congress each year. Our #PayItForwardToProducers campaign raised over $1,000 dollars which paid for half of the costs related to the Congress. With the help from donors like you, as well as our long standing partners, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, DLG was able to cover all of these costs. A very special thanks to Peggy, Rick, and Ann, who each supported the full participation costs of an attendee to the Congress.