Coffee and Chocolate on the Hill
Last week, coffee and chocolate products of current and former Inter-American Foundation (IAF) community partners from Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, and Bolivia filled the Rayburn Foyer with delectable aromas and brought to life a deeper story of groups working to improve conditions and opportunities in their communities.
The IAF hosted its 5th Coffee and Chocolate Tasting on the Hill on February 8th, 2018. The event helped connect Congressional representatives and their staff to the IAF’s distinct model of development assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean that reaches an incipient level of civil society and grassroots groups.
Once again in its fifth run, coffee and chocolate proved to be a classic combination. The IAF brewed 630 cups of coffee and attendees tasted a combined 20 pounds of chocolate. Those in attendance included Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) who complimented IAF’s work on Twitter.
About our Community Partners
The IAF’s support to coffee growers goes beyond assistance to individual households. Our support also looks to build local economies and improve factors that lead to outward migration and displacement. Asociación Barillense de Agricultores (ASOBAGRI) in Guatemala, works to increase the role women and youth play in organic coffee production and reduce the pressure to migrate.
Since coffee is also an important cash crop in Latin America and the Caribbean, the IAF recognizes supporting the transition to specialty coffee is crucial for community partners to expand into global markets. Empresa Cooperativa del Sur del Cauca (COSURCA) in Colombia, works to make coffee and fruit farming lucrative alternatives to coca production. IAF funding has helped COSURCA farmers renovate their farms, improve organic farming practices, and increase the volume of organic coffee marketed to Fair Trade outlets.
In scaling up sustainable coffee production, community members are able to use additional income to improve homes, educate their children, and improve nutrition. This has been the case of Unión de Productores Orgánicos Beneficio Majomut Sociedad de Producción Rural de Responsabilidad Limitada (Majomut) in Alto de Chiapas, Mexico, who has invested in social projects aimed at improving women’s participation and standard of living. Scaling up production has also challenged Majomut to find ways to mitigate the effects of plagues (coffee rust) and environmental changes. In the 2014-2015 season, coffee rust fungus decreased Majomut's production by 71%. Support from the IAF allowed Majomut to recover by planting new seed variants that are more resistant to coffee rust and implementing soil conservation techniques that save water and soil.
El Ceibo, a recurring presenter at our Coffee and Chocolate Tasting, is an example of IAF’s investment to an incipient group and business idea that has proven to be sustainable and successful. Since our investment in the 1980's, El Ceibo has evolved into Bolivia’s leading exporter of cacao and chocolate.