Cooperatives and exporters play an extremely important role in coffee production in Honduras. To find out more about how they help coffee farmers and communities and what sectors they specialise in, we spoke to the team at COPROCAEL (Cooperativa de Productores de Café La Encarnación Limitada).
This Honduran cooperative is located in the municipality of La Encarnación, Ocotepeque, and offers services and training to its members. Read on to learn more about their projects.
1. WHAT ARE COPROCAEL’S MAIN OBJECTIVES FOR 2021?
Our main objective is to maintain our cooperative at optimal levels in terms of quality and productivity of our coffee. To do this, we want to ensure that each of our member producers can be highly trained in the management of their coffee plantations. In addition, equipping ourselves with efficient and quality machinery for the handling and processing of coffee allows us to offer our national and international buyers a highly competitive quality coffee.
Another objective is to improve the quality of life of our associates, their families and their collaborators. As part of this, we also aim to create a general awareness of changes in climate and nature, as well as a greater awareness of health issues.
2. AS AN EXPORTER IN HONDURAS, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED IN 2020 AND HOW DID YOU ADAPT TO THEM?
The biggest challenge was to face the COVID-19 pandemic with strength, courage and perseverance. We were adapting to the changes in behaviour in terms of relationships. We had to take all the necessary security measures so that our operational and administrative staff, producers and customers could stay in contact through technology. This is how we were able to carry out each of the operations involved in the movement of the coffee sector, as well as safeguard the health and lives of everyone.
Although throughout 2020 the virus slowed down a lot of markets, we were able to handle the situation in a way that minimized its negative impacts. The cooperative continues in the process of change and growth, despite the uncertainty of what will happen in the coming months.
3. TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HONDURAN COFFEE SECTOR IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS.
In the last five years we have been able to carry out events of great importance, such as the Cup of Excellence (CoE). This has been a very important advancement for our coffee sector, as it allows us to elevate the quality of coffee produced in our country and to achieve better prices, which improves the quality of life of each of our coffee growing families.
In addition, achieving high levels of productivity in each of our coffee plantations has been a high priority for the national economy. Thanks to this, we have been able to reach historic levels of sales of millions of bags of coffee abroad. The foreign currency from these exports has improved the lives of many families.
With the support of government institutions, coffee organisations and associations, we have also managed to train the majority of coffee producers at a national level so that they can address challenges they face in coffee production.
Finally, we have managed to better organise coffee producers. This allows us to find better market opportunities at the international level, to improve the quality of the product and to offer more and more quantity.
4. HOW DOES COPROCAEL SUPPORT PRODUCERS?
COPROCAEL offers each producer coffee processing services, such as wet and dry processing. By centralising the process, we can avoid contamination of the producers’ land.
In addition, financing is offered for the management and establishment of coffee plantations, as well as the construction and improvement of their houses and land. Financial support is also available for health and personal safety emergencies, and we have medical brigades set up in the community.
Our cooperative also offers incentives to the producers to travel cnd undertake training in various topics, such as farm management. We also offer financial support in the form of scholarships, so that producers’ children have the opportunity to study.
5. WHAT KIND OF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE OR SUPPORT DOES THE ORGANISATION PROVIDE?
All producers are provided with personalised technical assistance in order to keep each of their farms in good condition. Because of this, they feel protected by our company and have the confidence to express to each of our technicians the problems that they may have in their coffee plantations.
The cooperative also offers support to groups of women and young people in our cooperative, working to diversify their use of coffee and its byproducts, both locally and nationally. This allows us to offer and sell our processed coffee with the support of the women and young people in our company.
Training and support in the management of coffee by-products allows us to keep our environment free of contamination. In addition to the honey water, we also help to process the coffee pulp and use it as a highly important ingredient for our coffee plantations.