The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Maeci) and the Guatemalan National Coffee Association (Anacafe) are developing an initiative for protecting small coffee producers. In addition, cooperatives have been selected to diversify earnings.
To improve their socio-economic conditions, small coffee producers receive training that expands their technical skills in farming, organization and business. The aim is ensure a high-quality coffee product so as to attract a niche market of consumers. Selected cooperatives are composed of entrepreneurs in the area who have previous business experience, organizational soundness, and guaranteed quality. Women are able to carve out roles for themselves in these organizations that were once the sole prerogative of men. Some of their activities include coffee roasting and grinding, as well as complementary activities like cultivating mushrooms and promoting compost production.
Two cooperatives have succeeded in exporting 2 thousand sacks of coffee thanks to contacts fostered by the program, bringing a significant increase in revenue. Four small coffee-roasting businesses run by women in the community have also been created. Thanks to the new techniques that have been learned, there have been significant water savings, while by-products from the processing are used to produce compost. Complementary income is generated primarily through sales of mushrooms and ground coffee, with excellent results. In addition, new environmental protection techniques have cut the use of phytosanitary products for the control of rust fungus by 30%.