Arriving at our destination was not easy. From Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital it took us another 30 minutes by plane to San Pedro Sula in the north and then four hours by car on a shaky road into the mountains where the coffee grows.
Due to better maintenance, the coffee grows better here than in most areas of the country. It’s because farmers cut off old coffee plant trunks early and allow younger, more productive ones to grow back.
The Hondurian coffee export had been largely ruled by Cooperativa CENTRAL until 2005 when the cooperative had to shut down due to mismanagement and irregularities. This made it difficult for local coffee producers to find access again to international coffee buyers.
La Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas (COCAFCAL) is in Santa Rosa, and was started in 1999 with only 24 producers. The cooperative’s general manager, José Omar Rodriguez, explained that with the help of Oikocredit’s US$ 600,000 credit line, they were able again to establish good and stable relationships with European, American and Australian coffee importers. Today, they continue to expand operations. Their strategy is to never compromise on quality and they can now compete with the best in the world market.
From left to right: Jose Francisco Villeda (coffee producer), Jose Omar Rodriguez (COCAFCAL's Managing Director), Eduard Walkers (Oikocredit Deputy Regional Director Central America) and myself.
The organization is certified organic (Biolatina, since 2006), Fairtrade (FLO, since 2009) and with the Rainforest Alliance for protection of environment, wildlife, workers and local communities (since 2006).
The volatility of coffee prices is not a primary threat for COCAFCAL. With Fair Trade and Organic coffee premiums assured through permanent quality control they can always expect good prices. Coffee contracts are closed by matching supply from producers and demand from buyers on a daily basis.
As the season predicted, the typical heavy rain and thunder put a natural end to the activities on the day. It cut us of from electricity and communication - it was really raining cows and horses.
Tomorrow we will find out more about the coffee farmers of this impressive Fair Trade cooperative.
For more photos of the trip, visit our Facebook album Coffee & Coops.