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Cultivating Hope USAID is improving the lives of farmers through Coffee Value Chains in Guatemala

Vicenta Bautista Jerónimo, an indigenous Guatemalan woman, walks between her coffee plants, the small bright red ‘cherries’ contrasting sharply with the verdant green of the leaves. Her two sons, close at hand, remind her of why she worked so hard to become a successful coffee producer. A few short years ago she was recently widowed trying to support her family in the impoverished Western highlands of Guatemala; she was on the brink of illegally migrating to the United States. Driven primarily by economic pressures, Vicenta, like many Guatemalan men and women, began to see illegal migration as their only hope. However, Vicenta did not leave her community or family behind. Instead, with the support of USAID’s ‘Coffee Value Chains Project’ and her own desire to provide a better life for her children, she has become a successful coffee producer.

In 2018 Vicenta had 3.2 hectares of coffee plants that, due to poor management, were unproductive. The coffee she produced was of a low grade and, as a consequence, sold at a low price. Change and opportunity came when her cooperative, TodoSanterita, became involved in USAID’s Coffee Value Chains Project which provides training in coffee cultivation, pest and disease control, soil and water conservation, marketing, and climate change adaptation practices. Working side by side with her sons, she was able to turn her unproductive land into an income generating opportunity. USAID is working with 15,000 small coffee producers and their families, in three clusters in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quiché, and San Marcos to improve nutrition, resilience, and increase economic opportunities.

“We are cultivating hope and we harvest a better future for our communities with the skills we learned from USAID.” - Doña Vicenta

USAID focuses on improving agricultural technical skills, gender equality and social inclusion, and empowering women and young people to become active members in their communities. As a female grower and a widow Vicenta is no stranger to challenges. Her experiences and perseverance have made her a role model for other women in her community, motivating them to take control of their own future’s.

Vicenta went from 3.2 hectares of unproductive land to 3.2 hectares of land which is now producing export-quality coffee. Vicenta's coffee meets the demanding criteria for Fair Trade and other coveted certifications. Through USAID’s work, she has increased her productivity by 15% and through her cooperative sells coffee to both the United States and Europe, winning Fair Trade awards for her quality and productivity. She did not illegally migrate to the United States and, because of the new economic opportunities her coffee provides, her two sons have also stayed to work alongside her. She is now a leader in her community and an example for other women to follow.

Vicenta Bautista Jerónimo

The Guatemala Coffee Value Chains Project is supported by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, and implemented by the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives of Guatemala's Coffee Producers (FEDECOCAGUA). The objective of the project is to increase income and improve the resilience and nutrition of small coffee producers and their families in three clusters in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quiché and San Marcos.

Credits:

Feed the Future Coffee Value Chains Project