Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.

by ESTUDIOS RURALES Y ASESORIA CAMPESINA, A.C.
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Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.
Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico.

GlobalGiving Report September 2021

Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico. (29075)

Moving from shade coffee plantations to an agroforestry system

Dear Donors

In the last report, we communicate you that we were going to make a transition in our work. We want you to know, the reason of this transition.

Six years ago, after the rust infestation in coffee plantations, project participants felt that it was necessary to diversify farms to increase biodiversity and also to increase the species that supplement food and income. In this way, the habitats for the local fauna and flora are expanded, the environmental services offered by a diversified productive system enlarge, and the dependence on coffee as the only source of income is broken. 

Since then, year after year, thanks to the support of numerous donors, various fruit trees and timber trees have been planted in coffee plantations. One of the results of the evaluation we did of the 2020 work was to make an assessment of the diversity in the farms at this moment and the uses that are being given to introduced trees.

In this trimester we carried out a diagnosis and the results show that within the farms there are 18 forest species, several of them with good quality wood to make furniture. There are also 12 different species of fruit trees. The harvest of most of the fruit trees has already begun and they are used for family consumption; therefore, the diet is enriched with vitamins and minerals. As for forest trees, they are mostly also used for boards, poles, to improve the production unit and housing. As well, these trees are also used for firewood to be used in the wood-saving stoves that were introduced in this project.

In this assessment, it was also found that there is no forest culture that allows the use of forest species that already exist on farms and in the community. There are six elements that do not allow to develop this line of work: 1) It is not known how to calculate the amount of wood of a tree, and, therefore, there are no elements to put a price on a standing tree. Some families have lost customers interested in buying them. 2) There is no experience in the demolition of trees without affecting the coffee bushes. 3) The price at which they sell the wood is low because they do not have the documentation established by the forestry authority. 4) There is no clarity about the woods appreciated by buyers. For example, there is confusion between white cedar, Cupressus lusitánica; pinkcedar, Cedar Acrocarpus fraxinifolius; red cedar, Cedrela odorata and walnut cedar, Juglans pandriformis. 5) There is no experience in collecting seed from trees to make nurseries. 6) There are non-timber species such as the plama camedor that do very well in certain niches and have a good market: there are just a few people that cultivate them

Based on this assessment, training in the following issues is proposed for the coming months:

1.                   How to calculate the wood of a standing tree

2.                   Differentiate the trees and their types of wood and their prices

3.                   Official requirements for harvesting wood in small quantities

4.                   How to cut timber trees without affecting coffee plants

5.                   Seed harvesting and forest nurseries

In the following report we will share the progress in these issues


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GlobalGiving Report May 2021

Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico. (29075)

We will inform our appreciable donors the activities done with de coffee groups in this first quarter of the year. We will talk about three topics: 1) We are preparing a change of focus of the project, 2) the division of honeycombs of native bees and 3) visibility of coffee-growing women.

Transiting from the shady coffee farm to an agroforestry system

From the evaluation of the work from last year, one of the agreements with the participants in the project was to incorporate the forest dimension into the shaded coffee farms, in this way, we will move towards an agroforestry system. In the next report we will share the activities we carry out in this transition and the implications of this process.

Division of honeycombs of native bees to increase pollination

In the months of March and April we reviewed honeycombs, and one of the topics was to analyze the importance of pollination not only for the life of plant species, but also for human life. Colleagues commented on how the number of wild nests has decreased over the years due to theft to obtain virgin honey. In this way, the group of companions that make up the groups of native bees decided not to harvest honey this season and concentrate on the division of the nests that they have in their custody to increase the populations of native bees in their region so the pollination of the natural vegetation and crops of the region increases.

In the nest inspection, the following activities were carried out: a) nests were divided, b) raises were added to the boxes to increase the space for honey and pollen reserves, c) nests were changed to new boxes to improve their handling and d) propolis was harvested for the production of propolis tincture to use it in the health care of the family.

Making women's work visible

This quarter ended the coffee cutting season; after months in which many of the family members were daily cutting the cherry from the coffee plant. The months of coffee cutting are very intense; it combines the excitement of seeing the product of the family's work, the expectation of how the price will be when they take it to sell; economic constraints also ends; the payment of debts begins... It's time to plan: How much coffee will be sold in cherry to have money to fund the processing of the grain? How much of the cherry production will bien processed? How much dried coffee will be kept waiting for the price to improve? To whom the coffee will be sold to have a good price? ... These decisions were previously made by producers, i.e. men heads of families. Now, women have managed to make themselves seen as one more member of the family with very important contributions. Women's voices are increasingly been heard in these strategic decisions.

On this subject, the Bulletin "El Cafetalero" - a newsletter that is read in a wide region - published the result of a reflection made with men and women from the groups of three communities about what should be a fair price for coffee. In the beginning, in the three groups they agreed to propose that, in order to pay for all the work invested in the farm, the price should be between 13 and 15 pesos per kilogram of cherry coffee. However, in this year, the payment for the 1 kg of cherry coffee did not go over $9.50.

In the workshop, no one ever remembered when the price reached 15 pesos a kilo of cherry coffee. They mentioned that, in recent years, the price of coffee did not go over 10 pesos per kilogram.

We were concluding that the price paid year after year for coffee does not cover the work that producers do within the farm, when some female colleagues stressed that the price of coffee is also not covering all the care work that women do, without any remuneration, so that their husbands and their family can work, study and live their lives... For men and women these two approaches were very important: THE PRICE OF COFFEE DOES NOT COVER THE WORK THAT MEN DO IN THE PRODUCTION OF COFFEE NOR THE WORK OF THE WOMEN THAT FEED AND GENERATE THE CONDITIONS TO ENSURE THE WORK OF THE FAMILY

May those who read these lines also be moved and seek to always buy coffee from small coffee producer organizations. Let's exercise the power we have as consumers!!!

We greatly appreciate the support you have given to our project.


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Gobal Giving Report January 2021

 

Dear Donors

In this quarter, the activities of the project “Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico. (29075)” consisted of working on food security as one of the pillars of the family economy.

Years ago, in the central zone of Veracruz, was common that peasant families used their patio or ‘solar’ for food production, medicinal plants, and for raising poultry. With the rise of coffee prices, almost all productive spaces were occupied by coffee activities. Also, the work time of the different members of the family were concentrated in coffee production. This is how gradually all the diversification of patios has been displaced, turning these spaces into patios for drying coffee grain and into areas to process coffee.

However, with the fall or coffee prices and with the infection of rust in coffee plantations, many families are reincorporating food production into their family economy.

In this quarter, we concentrated our activities on responding to this interest of coffee families in three lines of work: raising laying hens, strengthening the vegetable garden and building energy-saving stoves.

Laying chicks: With your donations, we bought laying chicks and paid technical assistance so the hens have a protein and calcium enriched diet to ensure good growth and favorable conditions for laying.

Hence the planting of mulberry trees is being promoted as a source of protein for the hens. The incorporation of corn with limestone powder mixed with commercial food is proposed also. Over time, new ways of enriching the diet with local products will be promoted so that families stop buying industrial food.

Vegetable Garden: In this quarter we worked on three elements that have hindered the constant production of vegetables throughout the year. The type of seed, the sowing of seedlings and the protection of the garden in the rainy season.

While we manage to produce our own seed, we bought seed from a new supplier, hoping to have a higher germination rate. Regarding seedlings, sowing is being tested in medium containers with a rich substrate, placed in trays with a water source that allows watering the seedlings by capillarity (from below). In this way, irrigation will not mistreat the small leaves that are unfolding. With this system, the substrate is kept with the necessary humidity for the growth of the seedling and transplantation to the cultivation bed is carried out when the seedling is larger and stronger. (See photo below)
 
Finally, food safety requires good and healthy sources of heat to prepare food. The wood-saving stoves that have been built for five years are still in high demand. At the end of the year, 30 new saving stoves were built. Now 309 saving stoves have been built in this project.
In this case, the women proposed a new adaptation to increase the efficiency of the stove. We hope to increase firewood savings, which so far have been 30% compared to the open stove that are commonly used. In the next report we will have the results or this adaptation. 
We greatly appreciate those who have supported these activities to take place. This project is allowing families from three communities to improve their living conditions

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I am sending the report june 2020. In Spanish and English

Sustainably facing coffee rust threat in Mexico. (29075)

Estimados donadores

En el informe anterior, les comentamos que conseguimos unas despulpadoras ecológicas, probamos un deshidratador solar para secar el café, mandamos analizar la calidad de las muestras de café pergamino y le vendimos nuestro café pergamino a una organización hermana. Estas posibilidades las logramos gracias a sus donativos.

Ahora les vamos a informar sobre los resultados de estas innovaciones.

Las despulpadoras ecológicas usan menos de la mitad de agua que las despulpadoras convencionales que se utilizan en la región. De esta forma no solo ahorramos agua, sino que no se contaminan los río con residuos que salen de despulpar el café. Además de estas enorme ventaja, tiene dos más que no teníamos previstas: A) no maltratan ni rompen el grano de café, éstos salen completos, lo cual es muy importante para tener un producto de calidad. B) Son livianas y muy fáciles de utilizar, no se requiere mucha fuerza para manejarlas, lo cual permitió que varias mujeres se incorporen a esta fase del procesamiento del café que normalmente se lleva a cabo por los hombres de la familia.

El uso del deshidratador solar también tienen varias ventajas: el café se seca dentro de la cámara que está cerrada, solo fluye en su interior el aire seco y caliente. De esta forma el café está resguardado de la lluvia que siempre se presenta en los meses en que se seca el café a consecuencia del paso de los “nortes”. Esto permite que la familia no tenga que ocuparse de meter el café cada vez que amenzas la lluvia y volver a estender en la planilla cuando pasó la lluvia. Por otro lado, el café seco, sale de mejor calidad que aquellos que se secan al sol en las planillas convencionales, porque no se maltrata la membrana (el pergamino) que envuelve al grano. Al secarlo en planilla, los movimientos que se tienen que hacer al café maltrata esta memebrana y el calor puede ser demasiado fuerte que llegue a matar al embrión del grano, con l cual el café tiene una vida de almacén mucho más corta. Los productores que secaron su café en el deshidratador solar, encontraron oportunidades para mejorar el diseño y armar un modelo adaptado a los requerimientos de secado del café.

Se mandaron analizar 29 muestras de café, obteniendo muy buenos resultados. En las muestras se avalúa características físicas del café y atributos relacionados con el sabor y aroma. La calificación máxima es 100 puntos y a partir de 80 puntos se inicia la escala de los cafés especiales: las muestras que obtienen una calificación entre 80 y 83 se les denomina como café bajo especial. Las muestras con una calificación de 84 puntos en adelante representan un a café especial.

Dentro de esta escala, el 76% de las muestras de las y los compañeros están entraron en el grupo de café bajo especial y 10% (3 muestras) llegaron a los 84 puntos, es decir, alcanzaron incorporarse a los cafés especiales. Esta evaluación es muy importante porque es la primera vez que, los y las cafetaleros, como grupo, inician una experiencia colectiva de venta de café de calidad. Con esta información ya tienen una base para saber dónde tienen que mejorar sus procesos.

Si bien estos resultados están siendo muy importantes para el grupo, también nos topamos con un problema: la humedad del grano de café. En las comunidades, se acostumra medir la humedad de café con técnicas de precepción como el sonido que emiten los granos al moverlos con las manos, el color y la dureza del grano al rompero con los dientes. Con estas formas de percibir la humedad, se mandó el café a los compradores y varios de los costales llevaban café demasiado húmedo que tuvo que ser secado por el comprador.

Nos urge adquirir un medidor de humedad profesional para que no nos vuelva a suceder esta problema.

Finalemente se nos presentaron dos situaciones no previstas.

1. El tiempo que implica clasificar el café, son horas enteras para quitar los granos con deformidades, los rotos, los verdes, etc. Si bien este trabajo no se tenía contemplado, el precio del café lo compensa. Además de que las y los cafetaleros ya están diseñando estrategias para disminuir el tiempo de clasificación del café, integrando en el proceso productivo labores de selección en las diferentes etapas del proceso productivo, iniciando desde el corte de café en el campo.

2. El interés de las mujeres por integrarse a los trabajos de procesamiento de café, donde antes ellas no participaban. Sobre este tema les comentaremos en el siguiente informe.

Dear donors

In the previous report, we informed you that we acquire ecological pulpers; we tried drying the coffee in a solar dehydrator; we send to analyze the quality of the coffee with specialized tasters and the coffee productors sold their coffee to a sister organization. We achieved these possibilities thanks to your donations.

Now we are going to inform you about the results of these innovations.

1. Organic pulpers use less than half the water than conventional pulpers that are used in the region. We not only saved water, but the rivers are not contaminated with residues that come from pulping coffee. In addition to these enormous advantages, the pulpers, have two results we did not have contemplated: A) Diuring de process, the pulpers do not mistreat or break the coffee bean, the grain comes out complete, issue very important to have a quality product. B) The pulpers are light and are very easy to use, they do not require much force to handle them. With this characteristics, several women are intrested to participate in this phase of coffee processing that is normally carried out by the men of the family.

2. The solar dehydrator has several advantages: the coffee dries inside the chamber that is closed, only dry and hot air flows inside it. In this way, the coffee is sheltered from the rain. This allows the family not to have to put inside the house the coffee every time it threaten the rain, and then take de coffee outside to dry when the rain had finished. On the other hand, dry coffee comes out of better quality than those that are dried in the sun on conventional sheets, because the membrane (the parchment) that surrounds the grain is not mistreated. When dried on the spreadsheet, the movements that have to be made to the coffee mistreat this membrane and the heat can be too strong to kill the embryo of the bean, with which the coffee has a much shorter shelf life. Producers who dried their coffee in the solar dehydrator found opportunities to improve the design and build a model tailored to the drying requirements of the coffee.

3. We sent 29 samples of coffee to be analyzed by specialized tasters, obtaining very good results. The samples assess the physical characteristics of the coffee and attributes related to flavor and aroma. The maximum qualification is 100 points; the samples that obtain a qualification between 80 and 83 are called special low coffee. Samples with a rating of 84 points onwards represent a special coffee.

Within this scale, 76% of the samples are entered in the group of special low coffee; 10% (3 samples) reached 84 points. This evaluation allows the families This evaluation allows families to locate areas of opportunity to improve the quality of their coffee production.

Although these results are being very important for the group, we want to tell you about one problem we had.

It is about the humidity of the coffee grain. In the communities this humidity is measured with perception techniques such as the sound emitted by the beans when moving them with the hands, the color and the hardness of the bean when breaking with the teeth. With this ways of measuring humidity we sent de cooffe production to the buyer organization

Several of the bags carried too wet coffee, so they had to be dried by the buyer.
We need to purchase a professional humidity meter so that it does not happen us again.


We were presented with several unforeseen situations:

1. The time involved in classifying coffee; it takes whole hours to remove the beans with deformities, the broken ones, the green ones, etc. Although this work was not contemplated, but the price of coffee makes up for it. The coffee growers are already designing strategies to reduce the time for classifying coffee, integrating selection at different stages of the productive process, starting during the cutting of coffee in the field.

2. The enormous interest of women in integrating themselves into coffee processing jobs, where they previously did not participate. We will comment you this issue in the next report.

April Fools Day is coming. Prank your friends opening a never ending fake update screen on their computer. Sit back and watch their reaction.

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Processing coffee to sell it at a fair price

 

Dear Donors

Since november, we have started with the coffee harvest, which will last approximately two more months. This activity will trigger the employment of people in the communities during a short season, so, all the family concentrates their work in the coffe harvest.This year, there is a very good coffee production; it has become clear that, the restoration and maintenance work that has been carried out on the agroforestry systems of shade coffee plantations are giving good results.

The contrast between the conventionally managed coffee plantations and the agroecological coffee plantations with resources from this project is remarkable. In productive terms the yields are similar. However, in agroecological coffee plantations, healthier plants and better conserved soils are observed and the production costs are lower due to the decrease in the use of agrochemicals.

The theme of this period is the production process. Coffee has two industrial transformatios after harvesting. The first one is just after harvested the coffee cherry, in which the pulp or the coffee cherry is removed and the grain is dried. At this stage a pulper machine is used; frecuently this stage needs a lot of water to wash the grain. Then, the grain is dried and can be stored in sacks for several months. The second process is to take away a film of the grain, but it is done until it will be sold to the distributor or toaster.

For many years, coffee producers have sold their coffee in cherry, without giving any added value to their production, thus the producers receive only 6% of the price that the consumer pays. Nowadays  there are growing the producers organizations that seek to appropriate the entire value chain. Several organizations have managed to open markets for small coffee producers and sell even roasted and ground coffee.

This year we are begining the first step in the value chain. 30 families have started selling quality coffee. To ensure quality we had several trainings on the wet coffee beneficiary. Although some producers have experience in pulping coffee, quality standards are increasingly demanding. Experienced producers are updating their knowledge and sharing them with the rest of the group, in which several women participate. For women, this is a new activity, since previously they did not participate in the coffee production process.

Likewise, the quality of each producer's coffee is being analyzed by a specialized laboratory through physical and flavor tests to find opportunities to improve quality.

En this stage and to continue with the agroecological process, ecological water-saving pulping machines are being tested to remove the pulp of the grain and solar dehydrators to dry the coffee.

As we informed you in the previous report, the group has already committed a part of its production, with a good price, however, we are still looking for fairer markets.

In this way, we continue to invite our donors to continue supporting this project that is allowing to find strategies for the dignified life and good living of the families of San Miguel Tlapexcatl and Limones in the municipality of Cosautlán, Veracruz, Mexico. We remind you that, due to the austerity policies of the current government, support for the peasant sector is restricted, so it is more than ever necessary the support and solidarity of independent donors, as do those who kindly already finance some actions of This project through the Gloval Giving Foundation platform.

 Thank you.

 Gabriela Guzmán

Estudios Rurales y Asesoría Campesina A. C.

 

Photos:

1. Fully Ripe Coffee Harvest

2. Coffee Processing Course

3. Ecological pulping machine

4. Pulping coffee with ecological machine

5. Solar dehydrator for coffee beans

6. Coffee samples to be analyzed

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Organization Information

ESTUDIOS RURALES Y ASESORIA CAMPESINA, A.C.

Location: OAXACA - Mexico
Website:
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Twitter: @era_ac
Project Leader:
Fernando Ruiz
OAXACA, Mexico
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