And then there were 3…

2 weeks have gone by as quickly as the daily passing rainstorms here in Huehue. Maybe it’s the multiple cups of coffee in the morning, or the daily hike through the steep streets of Concepcion Huista (where CODECH is located), or the high altitude amongst clouds, but nonetheless, our blood has been pumping in the beautiful mountains as we’ve already conducted 12 interviews with both co-op leaders and co-op members (coffee producers), visited and talked with several producer communities, as well as walked through producer’s coffee farms and parcels.

Ariadne in the thick of a  coffee farm, on the side of a really steep mountain.

Ariadne in the thick of a coffee farm, on the side of a really steep mountain.

Interview with Don Gaspar and his wife Anita, both leaders at CODECH.

Interview with Don Gaspar and his wife Anita, both leaders at CODECH.

After the discussion of last year’s results with CODECH, we narrowed down the recommendations to 5.  But after more interviews with co-op leaders, we further narrowed them down to a total of 3 strategies that leaders and members were most interested in, specifically: 1) Water Collection System, 2) Solar Dryers, and 3) Income Diversification.

Water Collection Systems: Water is vital for a producer, especially in the summer seasons where it is more dry and when water is needed for coffee washing and processing. Some communities that were more tucked away in the mountains described how water-strapped they can be. One community explained how each producer is limited to the number of coffee plants they can cultivate due to limited water resources. Strangely enough, there is plenty of rain here, but collecting water for future use would be extremely helpful and useful for all the producers we interviewed.

Solar Dryers: Solar Dryers, a method of drying coffee beans quicker and better using an insulated, raised bed, has been used with other producers in other countries. The producers at CODECH, however, still use the traditional method of laying the beans flat on the ground. Recently though, we found out that there is another pilot project going on currently with CODECH and funded by another partner. Although 4 solar dryers are being constructed for next year’s harvest, co-op leaders and members are still intrigued by this idea and how to expand it.

Traditional way of drying coffee beans.  No weather protection and no air circulation underneath.

Traditional way of drying coffee beans. No weather protection and no air circulation underneath.

Solar Dryer that just got built and will be used for the next harvest!

Solar Dryer that just got built and will be used for the next harvest!

Interior view.

Interior view.

Income Diversification: Whether through selling honey, mangoes, avocados, or other products, generating money through another income stream was another strategy that gathered much interest amongst leaders and producers. In a region where there are food security issues but fertile land, diversifying a farm with other fruits and vegetables can also provide better resiliency to climate change through livelihood strengthening.

Using these 3 strategies as our focus, we look forward to interviewing more leaders and producers, conducting more focus groups with producer communities, and talking with key actors in the field. We hope to really hone in on these 3 strategies to see what specifically is needed to implement them, what barriers there are, current resources that could be used, and other thoughts on viability. Stay tuned for more as we continue moving forward with our research!

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