|Taste||Dark chocolate, pecan and plum.|
La Asuncion is a twenty-five producer cooperative in San Jose Poaquil, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. This co-op is one of fourteen producer groups representing over 1,000 coffee farming families that participated in an organizational development project with Hans R Neumann Stiftung from 2015 through 2018. HRNS is a nonprofit that promotes the financial and social sustainability of coffee cultivation through formal organization of producer groups, financing and loan acquisition, access to bulk purchasing of farm inputs, targeted improvement of plant productivity, and heightened market access to international buyers. In San Jose Poaquil, additional emphases were placed on business and economic education for women, who represent 70% of the producers in this project and comprise the majority of coffee producers in all of Chimaltenango, and for adolescents, who are reasonably inclined to leave the coffee industry if better practices cannot increase the profession’s financial sustainability.
During the project’s three-year formal operating period, a Project Manager oversaw several technicians, agronomists, and financial consultants working full-time in the field. In 2019, with the active-engagement period formally finished, one technician remains in the community full-time, while the bulk of its aspired sustainability rests within community leaders’ ability to uphold the systems established in the last three years. Though nervewracking, independence and full agency are always the goals for groups working with HRNS, and the true impact of their involvement will show itself most earnestly this year and in the years ahead. For our part, we aim to stay closely engaged with organizational representatives in Guatemala and with our importing partners for this coffee, InterAmerican. Our immediate curiosities are altering this supply chain’s pricing mechanisms fully away from the Commodities Market, moving toward full crop purchasing in instances where it does not occur already, increasing premiums and thereby incentives for lot separation, and encouraging these groups to prepare their offers for buyers earlier in the harvest cycle in order to compete with better-established organizations offering similar quality and price points. Plenty of work remains, but Cooperativa la Asuncion is off to an excellent start.