In November of 2016, I had the honor of traveling to Guatemala with a group of U.S. cooperative leaders led by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA). Our goal was to help facilitate and encourage cooperative-to-cooperative trade between Guatemala and the United States.
“OUR GOAL WAS TO FACILITATE AND ENCOURAGE COOPERATIVE-TO-COOPERATIVE BUSINESS IN GUATEMALA AND THE UNITED STATES.”
“In Guatemala, it was important for the participants from U.S. Grocery Co-ops and coffee roasters to meet with Pachamama’s members as well as other producers of specialty coffees to learn about the challenges the Guatemalan coffee industry is facing and how the U.S. market can directly support smallholder coffee farmers with fair prices and diversified markets to ensure sustainability of the coffee industry.” – Marcus Laws of NCBA CLUSA
“Every time we visit with our members at origin, we strengthen those relationships and build closer ties. These cooperative connections will benefit both farmers and consumers for many years to come. It’s a great investment.” – Thaleon Tremain, Pachamama
“We may visit organizations that we did not know and after having an introduction, and learning about them during a visit is always a plus.” – Erika Tran-Hernández, InterAmerican Coffee
“These exchanges promote transparency, and the flow of information about the farmers, and the production conditions and origin of the products we buy” – Marialy Justiniano, Cervantes Coffee Roasters
“For Kishé it is more important to connect with American buyers because the brand is available in the United States and it has been difficult to access the market without a big budget for publicity. To have the chance to present the product in person to several buyers is an important opportunity for us.” – Nidia Gómez, FECCEG
MANOS CAMPESINAS, Asociación Civil de Pequeños Productores de Café, a producer organization owned by 1,100 families in the southwestern departments of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and Solola. In addition to marketing and exporting its farmers’ organic coffee, Manos Campesinas supports gender equity by facilitating training programs which work with the women to build leadership skills. FECCEG, La Federación Comercializadora de Café Especial de Guatemala, is a second level association representing 12 producer groups in Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quiché, Sololá, San Marcos and Quetzaltenango. ASUVIM, Asociación Integral Unidos para Vivir Mejor, a farmers’ association in Santa Clara La Laguna, Guatemala, and a member of Manos Campesinas. Sitting high above Lake Atitlán, ASUVIM has 130 member families, which represent ethnic communities K’iches and Tz’utuil. FEDECOCAGUA, Federación de Cooperativas Agrícolas Guatemala, a second-level co-operative founded in 1969 to improve the position of small-scale coffee growers. It is the umbrella organization for 20,000 coffee farmers belonging to 52 affiliated farmers’ organizations.