The fructuous projects of Exportcafé

01/08/23

In this third chronicle from our colleague Michaela, we will travel to Guatemala to learn more about our local operation, the  projects we currently have there, and meet their wonderful team lead by Don Fernando Quintanal. 

 

Guatemala is a beautiful coffee producing country with vast volcanic land and a rich history, situated between El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico. Coffee is an important crop, grown by some exceptional producers, and it is the country’s second-largest agricultural export, representing over 6% of the country’s export revenue. 

 

Exportcafé, ECOM’s office in Guatemala, began in the 1980s, and today has 159 employees. The Sustainable Management Services team was initiated in 2016/17, led today by Virginia Aguilar. Working with producers in Huehuetenango, Jutiapa, San Marcos, Sololá, and Santa Rosa, they are able to reach over 2,000 producers throughout Guatemala, which includes over 6,000 hectares. There is one wet mill in Santa Rosa, and four dry mills – two in Santa Rosa, one in San Marcos, and one in Zacapa. 

 

A small plane from Guatemala City takes us to Huehuetenango where seven SMS technicians are visiting producers, assisting them with agronomic advice and trainings, while three others travel to other regions to do the same.  

 

In Huehuetenango, a farm tour was organized with some technicians working for Nespresso to meet Blandy Maricel Constanza. She is a part of the Union de Pequenos Caficultores (UPC) and is currently the leader of 52 producers. UPC started back in 1998 to teach producers about various agronomic improvements and certifications. The leaders of the group gather producers, host trainings, and seminars with the support from Nespresso. Blandy and her team also help with dispersing Eco Filtros, which are clean water buckets that help purify water for drinking.

 

Sergio, Jacinto, Blandy

 

She herself owns two hectares of coffee - all organic - and has been running her farm for 20 years. She is proud of her home, as it is filled with bright colors and innovation. Her farm itself is clean, organized, and intercropped with other native trees. Her wet mill is immaculate, and she recently constructed new drying beds with the assistance from local masons.

 

This visit was a great opportunity to learn more about the unique quality of coffee in Guatemala. The support from external companies, and the hands-on projects are truly helping to improve production throughout the country.  Exportcafé primarily works with Tim Horton’s, Nespresso, and Starbucks, and these companies have various programs. 

 

Tim Horton’s is leading projects focused on technical assistance, safe handling of pesticides, maintenance of spraying equipment, eradication of child labor, and support with coffee leaf rust. Nespresso also provides technical assistance in addition to support with Rainforest Alliance Certifications for producers, planting shade trees, and soil management in addition to clean water access. And lastly, Starbucks is assisting with the delivery of high-yield, rust-resistant Marsellesa seedlings (5 million trees per year since 2016) in addition to helping with various certifications. 

 

 

On top of all of this technical support, Exportcafé also manages and funds one Satellite School in San Antonio Chacayà, where a computer room was constructed in 2015 for schools in the community to visit. The school is led by Antonio Cali, who is enthusiastic and eager to grow the school. Virginia and her team regularly visit the school, where the students keep clicking away on the computers. 

 

Antonio and Virginia

 

It was fascinating to discover all the parts of Exportcafé and all that they can achieve with the support of the external stakeholders. Virginia and the SMS team are truly exceptional, visiting the farms, organizing goals, and ensuring the future of the Satellite School with the guidance of Don Fernando. The producers are working hard, with support and guidance, to create a wonderful future for coffee in Guatemala.  

 

 

 

Article written by: Michaela Tomcheck 

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