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Ensuring more people have access to drinkable water

Santa Anita la Union is a small community in the western highlands of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala, established in 1996 after the 36-year fight for human and land rights by indigenous groups. The rich, volcanic soil around Santa Anita and neighboring Colomba is known by coffee buyers for yielding some of the highest quality coffee in the world. However, it is also known as a region where people struggle to survive, with high unemployment and extreme poverty.

De la Gente works to support the coffee cooperative in Santa Anita, named APCASA, consisting of 10 families. As the area has been devastated by the coffee fungus roya, De la Gente is working to provide better technology, new coffee plants, and training on use of fungicides and fertilizers. The community of Santa Anita is working to develop their livelihoods through growing coffee, macadamia, banana and avocado trees, and building their ecotourism program. 

The families have had a very difficult two years due to the devastating effects of roya - leaving them with very poor harvests and little income for the year. They are currently struggling to provide their families with even the basics such as nutritious food and clean water.

In February, De la Gente distributed 10 water filters to the community - 1 for each family, allowing them to have access to safe, clean drinking water. The double benefit is that this will reduce their costs on purchasing bottled water, which can be a huge expense.

The families were so appreciative for the support. Thanks to generous supporters De la Gente is able to help make life a little easier for this community.

APCASA celebrates inauguration of bodega

A special event took place in February, as multiple cooperative representatives from across the region came together to celebrate the inauguration of APCASAs new bodega. The bodega, which is typically used as a dry store for coffee and processing machinery, also serves as meeting space for community and inter-cooperative discussions and training.

The meeting was a grass roots initiative, organized and facilitated by Don Rigo, community leader of APCASA, and had 3 objectives:

  1. Inauguration of the new building, implemented by As Green.
  2. Undertake a coffee cupping – to demonstrate to farmers the importance of understanding the flavors of their coffee. A cupping is an essential part of the decision making process for buyers – if farmers want to export to international markets this is an activity they need to become familiar with. Samples from each of the groups was tested by all of the farmers. Representatives from Quijote Kaffee, a German-based coffee roasting company, led the cupping training.
  3. Build the network of cooperatives and small scale farmers - friendship, trust and knowledge sharing are essential to the progress and future sustainability of small scale coffee growers. The meeting served as a platform for discussions and knowledge sharing on topics such as exporting coffee and Roya.

Check out these links for press on the event.

APCASA receives coffee fruit de-pulper

Thanks to a generous donation from Mike Hatfield of Zion Coffee, the APCASA cooperative in Santa Anita received a much-needed machine called a demucilager, which is used to produce semi-washed coffee. The machine uses very little water compared to other processing techniques, making it very useful in areas where water is in short supply. The machine is also considerably less labor intensive. The demucilager will allow the co-op to process their coffee as a centralized group. APCASA plans to install the machine in their newly constructed bodega, which was financed partly by De la Gente and partly by a Rotary Club.

“This machine is just what we need in order to produce coffee for export,” said Riogoberto Augustin Ramirez.  “We cannot thank Mike enough for his generous donation and support of APCASA.”