Project Location   |   Project History   |   Current Program   |   Results

Alta Verapaz, Coffee Farmers in the Poorest Region of Guatemala

In September, SID began a new project with 800 coffee farmers in the 22 communities of the Municipality of Tamahu in the Department of Alta Verapaz. In the first year of the project, they were able to add another cuerda in production, increase productivity from 3 to 5 quintals per cuerda, and more increase their income from an average of $166 to $368 a year from coffee.

The 800 coffee-farming families of Tamahú began terracing their coffee plots, leaving strips of grass between the rows, growing shade trees in family nurseries, and planting shade trees on new coffee plots in order to control erosion from water flowing down the mountainsides during the rainy season. The farmers have an average of 0.53 hectares of coffee, and together they are putting 424 hectares of mountainside land under reliable land reclamation and conservation practices.

Northern Chimaltenango, Combating Coffee Leaf Rust: 2012 to 2016

The results for the project to help farmers combat coffee leaf rust are summarized in the table which follows. The coffee year begins in April and ends with the completion of the harvest in March. 2012/13 is the year from April 2012 to March 2013, and the April to March coffee year continues for the years thereafter. Approximately a third of the farmers and communities were able to return their productivity, husking, and income to pre-leaf rust levels by the end of the 2014/15 year, and they graduated from the program at that time.

The priority of the project was to help farmers successfully combat the coffee leaf rust. As such, there was no emphasis on the practices for reclaiming and conserving their mountainside land. However, more than half the farmers had adopted these practices during the previous project, as described below, and they had become part of their standard agricultural practice.

Results Chimal LeafRust

Northern Chimaltenango, A Focus on Coffee: 2007 to 2011

The Northern Chimaltenango coffee-farming families put all of their land under good land reclamation practices over the course of the project. They used continuous terracing of their coffee plots to control erosion of steeper mountainsides. They created slow-formation terraces by planting strips of reeds or assembling rows of wood and stone across the contours of less steep land. They dug water absorption wells and ditches to slow the downward rush of rainwater on extremely steep slopes. In the last year or two of the project, they had terraced all their land, and the practices switched to maintaining the terraces, wells, and ditches. The farmers have an average of 2 1/4 acres of farmland. As such, they put nearly 5,000 acres or 2,000 hectares of farmland under good erosion-control, land-conservation practices.

The coffee project also helped farmers increase productivity and husk their coffee and gain a higher price by selling directly to exporters. The increases in income were significant, and every year more farmers joined the project.