a cup of Juan Francisco
Juan Francisco works with coffee small farmers in Guatemala through his organization called FECCEG. He focuses on working with women-farmers that otherwise would be only dedicated to domestic purposes and would go over looked as business owners. Due to the harsh circutances of Guatemalan life, their husbands or fathers are dead or immigrated to the US and EU. They continue to work the farm in organizations allowing them to reach markets and sell directly and as a result obtaining better prices for their labor and efforts. FECCEG work with very small farmers who produce maybe 10 sacks a year.
Juan Francisco and his team, Vera and Nidia and others, help these small women–owned farms to realize a profit, improve their work through collaboration and best practices sharing. Using best practices, results in better the coffee, the better the profits for the farmers. In the past, Juan Francisco worked with a NGO that worked with coffee farmers when the coffee crisis hit. There he learned to “think out of the box” and became a good leader and organized a for profit business model. FECCEG trades directly with Green Mountain Roasters and Inter-American brokers in the United States. They work with very small farmers who produce maybe 10 sacks a year. They employ several skilled personnel such as a cupper, and graders to help them classify the coffee in order to determine the quality prior to selling. They want to develop a roasting business that hires fulltime personnel . They also work on developing other ways for the farmer to diversify farming and generate additional cash-flow. Diversification is necessary in order for the family to be able to work year-around. Nidia has several skills other than coffee, she works with organic honey, bananas. FECCEG’s personeel is always looking for more options to create a more sustainable life for the farmers of Guatemala.
Through our conversation Juan Francisco conveyed that “Since the organization began we have been working with quality, it makes the producer feel identified and safe to work with us, we are looking for consumers to know its a good coffee and know us and recognize the extra labor we put in. We want to build a relationship. We are closing the gap between relationship with producer and consumer”
When the producer is ensured that their product will be bought they are more comfortable producing more and better coffee. They are able to take risks. It was a pleasure to talk with Juan and I look forward to trying their coffee at AVOCA in the future.