We began this trip focused entirely on the cultivation and sale of bananas. Our assignment is to work with the farmers of the Cooperativa Todos Hermanos in Zacapa, Guatemala, who are successfully exporting coffee, but are looking for ways to diversify their family income and provide additional food security throughout the year. Some have begun to grow bananas, but without expertise or training, they are producing less than they might. Our hope is to discover ways in which organizational management, cultivation practices, and the marketing of their products can strengthen the existing co-operative.
Though up to this point, our project has seemed well defined, by the end of the afternoon we had discovered some complicating factors. We spent the day in the office of the Bishop of Zacapa y Chiquimula speaking with various members of the co-op administration including the founder, Monsenor Bofelli, his right-hand-woman, Blanca, and the manager and agricultural specialist, Emilio. Since the co-op’s primary crop is coffee, we spent a lot of time today learning about that part.
Some new terms:
Gold coffee: dried out beans with the husk still on. Smells like hay.
Dry-mill: State of the art German machine used to clean and sort the coffee.
“Unfaithful” competition: The members of the coffee-producing economy that have some illegal side-businesses.
After a long day of interviews and a dinner debrief, we ate some mangoes. The result was… sticky….