Sustainable coffee agroforestry systems can be the best alternative for healthy, functional watersheds, second only to natural forests. Falcon is a commercial partner for Blue Harvest promoting these agricultural practices as well as looking to support quality uplifts.
Origin: El Salvador, Nicaragua & Honduras
Timeline: 2014 – on going (Falcon has participated since 2016-17)
Partner orgs: Catholic Relief Services
People: 3500+ farmers; San Carlos 103 families, Renacer 60 producers
• 140MT purchased from Blue Harvest producers.
• $2K+ donated from specialty coffee sales to fund agronomy scholarships for 3 farmers in Renacer’s Field School.
Sustainable coffee agroforestry systems can be the best alternative for healthy, functional watersheds, second only to natural forests. By promoting water-smart agriculture, restoring critical areas within watersheds, and strengthening local-led water resources management, producers contribute to sustainable access to safe water and learn critical skills for producing higher quality coffees in a water smart way. Falcon is a commercial partner for Blue Harvest promoting these agricultural practices as well as looking to support quality uplift.
Blue Harvest goes beyond water smart agriculture. The project has been focused on restructuring the organisations within the project to ensure their ongoing success as producers and businesses. Many of the producer groups in the Blue Harvest program were in poor condition from an expertise and financial perspective. Some were crippled with debt.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in El Salvador provided business training and support to the coops and farms involved in the program. Most of them restructured their debt and with better management have worked their way to better financial situations.
CRS quickly identified the need for commercial partners to be involved to ensure the ongoing success of the producer groups once the initial Blue Harvest funding was depleted. This is where Falcon stepped in. By actively promoting the project and the producers to the right customer bases Falcon built a loyal following for this project.
In El Salvador CRS and Falcon identified two groups that had potential for high quality specialty coffees: Renacer and San Carlos Dos. Building from our success with specialty processing in Honduras we sent Carlos Estevez, (who has been trained in agronomic practice expertise by Falcon’s Simon Brown) to San Carlos dos for the harvest in 2019.
Carlos spent the season teaching the team at San Carlos dos everything he learnt about microlot processing. Carlos Estevez continues to visit San Carlos and the team at San Carlos have made several trips to Honduras to continue the knowledge sharing and development.
In 2020 Carlos Estevez and the San Carlos team extended this training to the Renacer group at the field school base situated at Finca Noruega. This provided access to the market through Falcon Specialty and to allow for experimentation, with a commitment from Falcon to buy their microlot coffees.
Blue Harvest exceeded all targets set for the original five-year program (2014 to 2019). Since 2014, more than 3500 coffee farmers have adopted Blue Harvest practices, increasing their coffee production by 20% to 300%.
The program helped build five new sustainable large-scale coffee mills, improved 1039 farm-scale coffee mills, and built 33 water treatment plants. More than 800 farmers have sold more than 1200 tons of coffee to world-class coffee roasters, earning between $1.95 and $2.50 per pound, doubling the market benchmark. The program has helped improve 141 community water systems, improving access to water for 96,000 people.
Off the back of the specialty training in the 2020 COE, Finca Noruega and their sister farm Finca Los Angeles both placed in the top 20. In 2021 San Carlos Dos had a coffee place 24th. These results are the direct impact of the training and knowledge transfer.
Since 2015 the average price received at San Carlos Dos was 153 c/lb. In 2020 they received 203 c/lb in a time when the market dropped. We have gone from buying 0 bags of specialty coffee in 2018 to now buying 452 bags in 2021.
We continue increasing the volume of specialty micro lots produced from San Carlos Dos.