Two years ago, Just Us! had no relationships in El Salvador and our partnership with Prodecoop in Nicaragua was rather distant and impersonal.
Today things are different.
We have now purchased 2 harvests from ACPROA in El Salvador that have gone into our Cradle of Peace and Project: Trifinio products. In addition, they attained Small Producer Symbol certification last year.
In Nicaragua we have managed to tighten our relationship with Prodecoop so that we no longer buy a nameless pooled lot from the organization. Instead, with the help of Etico, our partners in Nicaragua, we have developed a relationship with two small co-ops within Prodecoop that supplied our coffee last year and will again this year. In addition we arranged for these co-ops to put about US$ 9000 of the money we paid for their coffee into rust recover programs. For more information you can read our multi-part blog on Making Change in Nicaragua (www.justuscoffee.com/blogs).
Over the next two weeks I will be travelling back to La Palma, El Salvador to meet with ACPROA members and then to Esteli, Nicaragua to meet with our new partner co-ops within Prodecoop.
In El Salvador the goal is to better understand where they stand on their commitment to organic certification. My hope was to travel with our wonderful supporter and resource in El Salvador, Jay Hartling but as it stands now I will be doing it alone with an interpreter. ACPROA lost about 80% of their harvest last year to rust and as a result their commitment to organic production is waning. This trip will hopefully pull together members of the co-op, the government, and the community to work towards creating a technical support position for the co-op that would help them to implement organic production methods and attain certification. Realistically, in such a precarious situation it will be a challenge to go organic without a lot of help. This meeting will likely determine whether we continue our relationship with ACPROA or not. Our commitment to organic certification means that we cannot support the purchase of non-organic coffee for the long term.
In Nicaragua we’ll be meeting with our friend and contracted contact in Nicaragua, Nick Noskyns of Etico, to see the improvements that the two co-ops have made against rust with the money Just Us! paid for their coffee last year. We will also be having some higher level meetings to solidify our relationship, meet the people involved and talk about their quality program moving forward. We’ll also be cupping some samples of possible coffees that will make up our contract with Prodecoop this year.
As you might imagine, just showing up every two years doesn’t guarantee a good relationship and that is why Jay and Nick have played such a huge role in improving our relationship. When we are in more regular contact, our requests are taken a little more seriously and the projects we undertake together with producers are monitored a little more closely to ensure their intentions are met.
Keep an eye open for Twitter and Facebook updates during my trip. I’ll be in El Salvador from March 10 until 15th and in Nicaragua from the 15th to the 18th.