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FOCUS ON: Guatemala

FOCUS ON: Guatemala

Population: 16,580,000         Capital: Guatemala City

By purchasing coffee from Guatemala, you are helping families recover from years of civil unrest.’

Guatemala is a country rich in volcanoes, rainforests and history. This relatively small country which sits south of Mexico, boasts one of the most climatically diverse regions in the world.

Coffee was originally introduced in Guatemala in the mid-18th century by Jesuit priests. It has helped fuel Guatemala’s economy for over a hundred years. Today, an estimated 125,000 coffee producers drive Guatemala’s coffee industry and coffee remains one of Guatemala’s principal export products, accounting for 40% of all agricultural export revenue.

Guatemala produces the highest percentage of classified, high quality coffee by volume in the world. The coffee association of Guatemala, Anacafe, has been instrumental in the improvement of picking, processing and quality standards, with excellent information and resources available for farmers and a traceability database for buyers to connect with producers.

HISTORY to PRESENT DAY:

Guatemala’s indigenous people were the Mayans. The ancient Maya civilisation are renowned among historians and archaeologists as being an incredibly advanced culture that excelled at mathematics, astronomy and art, built amazing large cities and stone temples.

In the 14th century, the Europeans arrived and in 1524 Guatemala was conquered by Spain. It would remain a colony of Spain until 1821 when it regained independence.

However following a series of military governments, civil war broke out in 1960 and would last a brutal 36 years. During this time a genocide took place with many people, mainly of Mayan descent, were murdered.

By purchasing coffee from Guatemala, you are helping families recover from years of civil unrest.

FOCUS ON: El Fogón

Our first Guatemalan coffee offering is called El Fogón which means ‘The Big Fire’. It comes from a group of around 150 smallholder farms belonging to the Fedecocagua co-op. The co-op is based in the coffee growing regions in the south of Guatemala.

What is a CO-OP?

Coffee co-ops, or cooperatives, are partnerships between smallholder farmers who work together to improve both the quality of the coffee they grow and the quality of their lives. They range in size from 100 farmers to as large as 25,000 or more. They are crucial to the supply of great coffee and positive social change in coffee producing regions.

Fedecocagua CO-OP:

Established in 1969, FEDECOCAGUA is a cooperative organization with 20,000 members.Seventy per cent of co-op members are members of indigenous groups from various regions of Guatemala, including Huehuetenango, Cobán, Verapaces, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, and Zacapa.

Coffee cherries before being picked.

With proceeds from the Fair Trade price, the co-op has been able to:

  • Buy new trucks that help to reduce transportation costs involved in coffee production
  • Establish healthcare centres and pharmacies to meet the needs of local families 
  • Create micro-credit and pre-harvest financing programs 
  • Construct new schools and offer members’ children scholarships to continue their education
  • Finance electricity, potable water, and road construction projects 
  • Lend support to the “María Auxiliadora Weavers Club,” a group of 25 women weavers who have exported their colourful handmade crafts, bags, placemats and napkins to Germany, benefiting more than 125 children from Patzún, Chimaltenango.

“Prior to selling our coffee at the Fair Trade price, we did not have much of a chance to survive. Now we see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

-Marcos M.Pérez, Small farmer and FEDECOCAGUA member

 

Video of the processing mill, Guatemala.

Did you know?

The first ever chocolate bar was created in Guatemala The Mayans worshipped the cacao tree and called chocolate the “food of the gods.