Asociación Barrillense de Agricultores (ASOBAGRI)

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Public Statement 2016

Title Strengthening ASOBAGRI’s business model  
Type of organization Grassroots organization 
Country Guatemala
Duration  Three years
IAF Funding   Anticipated funding amount: $375,700
Obligated in FY 2016: $188,350
Counterpart Committed $623,275 (Cash: $449,495 and In-kind: $173,780)
Number of direct &
indirect beneficiaries

Direct: 1,238
Indirect: 7,428

Primary program areas Enterprise development/Education and training/environment


Organization

 In the mid-80s, twenty farmers from various communities in Huehuetenango organized to grow coffee, legally establishing Asociación Barillense de Agricultores (ASOBAGRI) in 1989.  By the time the Guatemalan Peace Accords were signed in 1996, ASOBARGI had reached a membership of 100, which now stands at 1,238 Q’anjob’al, Chuj and Ixil small coffee growers from Huehuetenango and Quiché. Its coffee, which is organically certified, is mostly exported to North America and Japan. 

ASOBAGRI’s general assembly consists of all its members and it elects a board of seven directors, oversight committee and an electoral one, each with three members.  These volunteers serve for two-years.  Over the past twenty years, ASOBAGRI has increased its membership, sales, obtained fair trade and organic certifications and endured despite natural disasters, plagues and price fluctuations. Currently, ASOBAGRI manages its own warehouse and a coffee shop located in Quetzaltenango. Its members have received technical assistance from government programs administered by the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) and funding from the Canadian Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Royal Coffee, and Ethical Bean Coffee. 

Development Objective

To diversify sources of income for a group of Guatemalan farmers and increase the role of women and youths in their association.  

Project Description

The Asociación Barillense de Agricultores (ASOBAGRI) will provide training and technical assistance to improve the association’s coffee production, introduce new crops, launch a coffee shop and provide working capital for a brand of fair trade coffee started by local youths. Grant activities will prioritize the participation of women and youth and benefit 1,238 people directly, 7,428 indirectly.  

Rationale for funding

ASOBAGRI is a grassroots organization that represents Q’anjob’al, Chuj and Ixil coffee farmers from Huehuetenango and Quiché, areas that are experiencing heavy flows of out migration. By providing incentives to increase the participation of women and youths in leadership positions, ASOBAGRI seeks to ensure its own institutional sustainability, improve living conditions in the communities it serves and reduce the pressures that force community members to migrate. 

Learning Opportunity

The prevailing academic and development wisdom suggests that small scale farmers are risk averse and slow to change. ASOBAGRI is defying this perception by breaking with traditional norms as it includes women and youths in decision-making and leadership positions to improve its prospects. Launching the coffee shop business and betting on the resourcefulness of youths to make their organic coffee brand succeed carries risks and the potential to ensure the future of the communities ASOBAGRI serves.