Focused on the Future: 3rd Annual De la Gente Coffee Congress
Back in August, De la Gente hosted our 3rd annual Coffee Congress with the biggest group of coffee cooperative members ever!
Over 15 farmers participated with at least 3 leaders from each of the 5 cooperatives we partner with, representing 4 coffee growing regions, for an intensive 1-day workshop focusing on leadership development and quality control. DLG decided this year should be different resulting in a 100% farmer-led training, putting Timoteo “Timo” Minas, president of the San Miguel Cooperative and DLG’s lead trainer, in charge of facilitating dynamic activities, group discussions, and break-out sessions. This is the one time each year that we all sit down together to discuss needs and the coming harvest year, which typically runs from November to March depending on the region. De la Gente takes advantage of this event to bring leadership from each of the cooperatives with which we work to have a collaboration of ideas, networking, capacity building, and solicitation of feedback.
Each year we join our congress with National Coffee Congress put on by Anacafe (National Coffee Association of Guatemala). Anacafe invites everyone involved in the coffee supply chain, from farmers to roasters, to Guatemala City for a conference focused on Guatemala’s coffee production and sales and the international market. To better fit the specific needs of the small-scale producers we tailor our full Coffee Congress Day to meet the unique needs of a small-holder coffee farmer and cooperative.
The first day started strong with opening remarks from Andy Feldmen, Executive Director, and Timoteo, which led to a brief introduction from each cooperative. Timo then led a group ice breaker. The group headed to the courtyard, formed a circle, and each person shared their favorite part of the coffee process and why. For those of you who have visited us in Guatemala, you know that there are many intensive steps in the process, from growing the seedlings to tending to the land, harvesting coffee cherries, drying the beans, selecting the coffee, and everything in between.
“This circle, all of us coffee producers, represents the entire process coffee goes through, each one of us favors a different step in the process, each one of us fills a vital space in the supply chain, and just like if we skip a step, without anyone of us, we won’t be as strong as we are when we are together and process the best coffee we can." ~ Gavino - Santa Anita Cooperative Member and Congress Attendee.
Everyone quickly relaxed with the opportunity to talk about what makes them happy. As we returned to the conference room the atmosphere was much lighter perfect for the start of a busy three day congress… Stay tuned for our next blog in our series on the 2016 De la Gente Coffee Congress.