De la Gente develops sustainable, community-led strategies to promote economic development, direct trade and improve the livelihoods of small-holder coffee farmers, their families and communities.
We focus on both sides of the cup: ensuring quality coffee for the consumers and quality of life for the farmers. Life is not always easy for disadvantaged coffee farming communities here in Guatemala. Isolation - geographically, economically and socially - has led to frequent disempowerment of the farmers in the coffee chain, high levels of vulnerability and extreme poverty amongst farming communities.
To help improve the quality of life for the farmers, we build long-lasting and trusting relationships with our partner communities, and we provide multifaceted support to help them, based on individual community needs. Whether in the form of needs analyses, technical training and advice, professional development opportunities, financing for capital upgrades, or grants of machinery, facility repairs, or supplies, we are there to help cooperatives grow and thrive.
De la Gente has four principal outcomes that are fundamental to our work for which we strive. They are:
Empowerment in the coffee industry
Healthy, thriving livelihoods
Resilience to shocks in the coffee industry and emergencies
To achieve these outcomes, our core programs focus in the following areas:
- Capacity building
- Agricultural education (farmer-to-farmer training)
- Leadership and business development
- Strategic planning for the future
- Access to industry conferences, knowledge sharing platforms and networking opportunities
- Access to local and global coffee markets
- Building connections between producers and buyers
- Sharing of best practices in growing and processing coffee
- Providing access to coffee processing machinery and equipment, technologies and inputs such as fertilizers
- Access to credit
- Short and long-term microfinance for coffee processing, equipment and land
- Sustainable livelihoods
- Economic diversification
- Diversification of crop production
- Health, food security and well-being
Here’s a selection of some of our key initiatives that highlight how we make a difference to the lives of coffee farmers and their families.
Capacity Building and Educational Projects
Access to education empowers farmers to increase their agricultural production and find innovations to improve their businesses in the long term. These innovations can relate to production, processing, and commercialization - all of which can positively affect the productivity, competitiveness, and livelihoods of farmers. Alongside training De la Gente facilitate opportunities such as community meetings that encourage learning through the interchange of ideas, successes, and failures.
Farmer-to-Farmer Agricultural Education
We undertake various training and workshops to encourage innovation at an individual farmer level as well as cooperative-wide practices. Our principal practice is farmer-to-farmer, as we have found this promotes the best learning outcomes and farmer-centered training. Topics covered include everything from machinery use, market access, coffee cupping, to agricultural inputs. Timoteo has been a member of the San Miguel Cooperative since its beginning in 2005, and has many years of agricultural experience. As a coffee farmer he is always innovating and searching for better production methods. Timoteo has been par of our professional development program and now is our lead agricultural trainer. He delivers training and production analysis to various cooperatives regarding land preparation, inputs, intercropping, shade cover, maintenance, harvesting and various other key themes.
Knowledge Sharing Platforms
As well as hosting our own inter-cooperative conferences when possible, we also send representatives from the communities to attend the national coffee congress at ANACAFE. This provides a platform for the farmers to learn about current themes within the coffee industry, feel inspired to love and progress their work as coffee farmers and network with other farmers to build a support system across different communities.
You can be part of the change, donate to our educational projects today:
Access to Local and Global Coffee Markets
We empower poor, rural coffee farmers to have ownership over their businesses and be part of the coffee process from bean to cup. De la Gente enable farmers to access the materials, equipment and capital necessary to grow, process and sell their coffee. This includes facilitation of sales both locally and internationally.
Distribution of Coffee Plants
Due to diseases such as the Roya, many communities have lost a number of their crops, and because of their economic situation cannot afford to replace them. Following community consultation and planning, we offer advice on best crop types to grow according to communities land types and markets, and we distribute plants and seeds either at no-cost or low-cost.
Distribution of Plant Inputs
Many low-income coffee farmers cannot afford to invest in the crops they have, meaning they see low-productivity of their plants and leaving them at risk of losing their entire years income if their crops fail. In communities where resources are extremely poor, and geographical isolation means they cannot access materials, we provide inputs such as fertilisers, fungicides and nutrients to give their crops the best chance of success.
Providing Access to Processing Equipment
Many small scale farmers and cooperatives lack access to processing facilities and equipment. This means they are forced to sell their coffee cheaply as unprocessed coffee fruit or pay somebody to transport and process their coffee. We therefore facilitate the installation of community processing equipment in areas such as roasters, processing centers, storage, drying patios, de-huskers and pulperos. We ensure all the equipment is farmer-owned to maximize their assets. The benefits not only include an increase in the value of their product but an increase in capacity too, offering the opportunity to build the farmers’ businesses. This equipment can also be accessed by nearby coffee farming communities - which enables them to process their coffee, and also brings in additional income for the communities.
Case study: In San Miguel Escobar, the cooperative members process their coffee in their homes, therefore we provide pulperos to members to support them in the first step of the process of taking fruit to green coffee. Pulperos allow the farmers to de-pulp the coffee fruit – separating the fruit from the bean.
Lesbia and Virgilia are the recipients of a motorized pulpero, made possible by generous De la Gente donors. These women are unique in the San Miguel coffee farming community in that they tend both to their coffee plants, as well as to their responsibilities at home as parents. With so much to do, time is of the essence. The motorized pulpero can process approximately 100 lbs of coffee fruit in four minutes. Thanks to the efficiency of the motorized pulpero, the women now have increased capacity along with more time to spend with their families, as well as to take a few minutes to relax after a hard day’s work.
You can be part of the change, donate to our farmer empowerment projects today.
Access to Microfinance
Our micro-finance program provides access to capital for cooperative and community members who want to expand their businesses. Bank loans are out of reach for most low-income families and farmers due to sky-high interest rates, high-risk loans and lack of individualized repayment support. Our program provides the rare opportunity for low-income families to invest in their business development. With their loans they can invest in land, raw materials or capital equipment, or build their own small businesses such as banana, plantain or bee micro-farms.
Case study: Manuel Gomez, always lights up the room with his infectious smile and energy. This father of three young children joined the San Miguel Escobar co-operative in 2011 and has since hugely benefited from the microfinance program at De la Gente. With the help of a land loan, he has been able to double his landholdings, expanding from a plot of 9 cuerdas (approximately 3 acres) to 19 cuerdas (approximately 6.3 acres). These asset investments will help him to increase his income and will continue to improve living conditions for himself and his family. In five years, he will pay back his loan and continue to see his land producing high quality coffee.
You can be part of the change to farmers futures, donate to our microfinance projects today.
Our key focus in our projects are coffee related activities, but we also understand that coffee farming does not act in isolation, and that low income farmers have many other needs alongside their coffee businesses. Therefore, we undertake a number of projects to address these needs and support the building of sustainable livelihoods for farmers. This helps us reach our key outcomes of healthy, thriving livelihoods and resilience to shocks.
Distribution of Shade Trees
Arabica coffee is best grown under a canopy of trees that shade and protect the coffee plants. These trees not only promote the growth of the coffee, but also provide families with a food source and a secondary income from the fruit, nuts and their by-products. We promote diversification of crop growth in all of our communities, such as the distribution of 5,500 macadamia seedlings.
Distribution of Water Filters
Clean, safe drinking water is a basic need for all families. Unfortunately, many communities continue to drink unsafe water, due to a lack of alternative options. In communities where this is happening we distribute water filters - a secure and cost effective method to bring clean drinking water to families.
For questions regarding our project work, or making a donation to support our programs please don't hesitate to get in touch with Keara at firstname.lastname@example.org .