Project Name: Resilient Coffee in Central America
Years of Operation: 2018-2020
Countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala
The Resilient Coffee in Central America is a three-year (2018-2020) project supported by USAID and implemented by the Texas A&M University System – AgriLife Research through the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, with the purpose of creating an evidence-based, more robust and resilient coffee sector in the three Northern Triangle Countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). This will be obtained by reducing risk and strengthening adaptive capacities of smallholder coffee farmers through the introduction of new coffee varieties more resilient to diseases, especially the coffee rust, and climate extremes, through the promotion of verified coffee nurseries to support the coffee renovation of farm initiatives and through the adoption of new management practices for a better coffee resilience.
The direct activity beneficiaries will be 25,000 small coffee farmers, mostly organized in cooperatives and associations, with emphasis on those who have suffered most from coffee leaf rust. Additional coffee producers and their families in the three countries will be expected to benefit indirectly from strengthened coffee value chains and best practices further disseminated through cooperatives, associations, national coffee organizations, export firms, NGOs and extension systems participating as partners and technical allies of the project.
- Coffee agriculture designed to be more resilient against climate variability: Promote the implementation of climate resilient agriculture and good agricultural practices (GAPs) in the coffee sustainable chain.
- Coffee resilience in the region: Encourage the adoption of more resilient coffee varieties and improved crop management, as well as better coffee processing practices to ensure stronger market links, better quality products and market diversification.
- Research and knowledge transfer: Work with strategic partners to strengthen the involvement of technicians and producers to conduct collaborative research on varieties resistant to coffee rust, promote the implementation and adoption of management practices, the establishment of nurseries to promote competitive, profitable and sustainable coffee production.
- Better quality of life, job creation, income generation: Improve the livelihood of the farmers beneficiaries and their families in the coffee value chain through activities included in the five pillars or components of the project.
The project’s strategy and methodology are centered on five fundamentals pillars that provide a framework for their implementation in the three countries.
- Pillar 1: Identification of opportunities to promote and implement actions geared towards a more resilient coffee industry by reducing the risks associated with coffee cultivation and by promoting its sustainability.
- Pillar 2: Dissemination of management practices and techniques through demonstration plots with coffee varieties for research and validation in farms of selected producers through the training of other producers and the transfer of validated technology.
- Pillar 3: Transfer of knowledge through technical assistance, training and capacity building at the level of technicians, producers, producer organizations, coffee institutions, exporting firms and NGOs, among others.
- Pillar 4: Support of the diversification of coffee cultivation and the introduction of new lines of business for producers, such as nurseries, beekeeping, etc.
- Pillar 5: Strengthening the research capabilities of strategic partners such as the coffee institutions, cooperatives, NGO projects, through their technicians and farmers in the medium and long term.
Bringing Knowledge For Training of Trainers: First-Hand Experience Through Demonstration Plots
The project strategy is based on the establishment of demonstrative plots of applied, adaptive and participatory research in diverse agroecological conditions, as well as the promotion of the establishment of nurseries verified with materials of genetic purity and high phytosanitary quality.
The objective of these plots is to demonstrate to coffee producers the vital importance of adopting coffee varieties and hybrids that are more resistant to rust and climate variability, of implementing better management practices, improving coffee processing, building stronger market links and of achieving product and market diversification.
The producers will benefit from observing the performance of the different coffee varieties in the actual field conditions and applicable to the different climatic variables, soil conditions and pressure from pests and diseases of the region where will be grown.
The project will be implemented based on the criteria, objectives and efforts that will be implemented with technical partners in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, in selected coffee areas that were severely affected by the rust crisis and experienced a reduction in productivity, quality and profitability that negatively affected the economy of the families that depend on the cultivation, production and processing of the coffee bean. Over a three-year period, more than 92 demonstration plots will be implemented in sub-regions of the three countries where the project has a direct presence.
The establishment of the project’s public-private strategic alliances for its successful execution is one of the key strategies for the implementation of the activities and the achievement of the results in its areas of action and influence. The project will work with public and private entities, as well as cooperatives and associations of coffee producers, private firms, NGOs, and coffee institutions who will be responsible for replicating and disseminating the knowledge and technologies learned in the demonstration plots directly to their beneficiaries.
The project has partnered with the CAPUCAS Cooperative in Honduras, which is providing the support of knowledge transfer in the region, functioning as a training center for coffee producers who receive training aimed at increasing their knowledge about the cultivation of resilient coffee, the efficient management of natural resources and farm diversification with respect to the production of coffee to improve their quality of life, that of their families and community around the producers’ organizations.
The project will actively promote the inclusion of women and young people at risk in all the links of the coffee chain in the region, through the creation of technical, educational and commercial opportunities such as nursery management, coffee processing, commercialization, cupping and barista training.