Article: The Power of 100: A Fair Trade Harvest

Written by Cafe Campesino on Oct 1, 2006 in Article, NEWSLETTER |

Rigoberto Ramirez of Santa Anita addresses a lunchtime gathering at Habitat for Humanity in Americus. PHOTO: Bob Jabobs, Photo Services, Habitat for Humanity Intl.

One of the most elevating aspects of Fair Trade is the opportunity it provides for those of us in the US to develop close personal relationships with our producer partners and their communities throughout the world’s coffee lands. From time to time we are called on to take action and leverage our society’s abundant resources on behalf of our producer partners who find themselves in particularly dire circumstances.

Twelve months ago, Hurricane Stan ravaged southwest Guatemala, including the community of La Asociación Maya de Pequeños Agricultores in Santa Anita la Unión, a small coffee producer cooperative and community comprised of 38 families. Their subsistence-level livelihood depends primarily on their coffee production. Unfortunately, Hurricane Stan not only wiped out 25,000 of the 35,000 new coffee plants planted by the community, it also reduced the community’s coffee yield by more than 50%, leaving its members with neither sufficient income to meet their basic needs nor the resources they need to harvest this year’s crop.

During his visit to Americus last week, the community’s director of commercialization Rigoberto A. Ramirez explained the nature of the community’s current financial crisis. He also articulated his community’s unwavering commitment to the concept of Fair Trade and determination to overcome their present circumstances no matter the sacrifice he and his fellow coffee producers have to make.

It will be another 18-24 months before the community at Santa Anita will see its coffee production and income return to pre-hurricane Stan levels. In order to get there it is very important that the community move forward with this year’s harvest not only to put food on their tables but also because their community’s future depends on it.

Because of our close relationship with the members of the Santa Anita community and what we know about their commitment to Fair Trade and transparency, we’re going straight to our network of supporters to help us raise the roughly $10,000 that they need to finance this year’s harvest. So, we’re asking 100 folks to contribute $100 each. We have set up a Santa Anita Relief Fund and offer a number of ways for supporters to make their contributions. If you feel like you can and want to join in this “Power of 100” campaign, click here to make your contribution online or send a check, payable to Santa Anita Relief Fund, to: 
Santa Anita Relief Fund
c/o Café Campesino
725 Spring Street
Americus, Georgia 31709.

Please note that contributions to this fund are not tax deductible. Should we exceed the fundraising target, the surplus will remain in the Santa Anita Relief Fund for the community to use for medical emergencies and critical health care for members of the community.

Santa Anita’s projected costs for harvesting the current crop of coffee under cultivation by the community are as follows:

Description of Expenses Total Cost in

Guatemalan Quetzals

Total Cost in

in US Dollars ($)

Payment to the community’s farmers for their 2006 harvest of coffee. This equals approximately $115 per family to live on over the next four months. Q30,000.00 $4,016.06
Transport of the community’s coffee from Santa Anita to Guatemala City. Q2,000.00 $267.74
Payment to processing facility; converting from pergamino to oro. Q12,000.00 $1,606.43
Payment to processing facility for preparation and packaging for exportation. Q14,857.00 $1,988.89
Electricity – October through January. Q1,400.00 $187.42
Fuel – October through January. Q3,348.00 $448.19
Burlap bags. Q861.00 $115.26
Baskets for gathering coffee. Q1,280.00 $171.35
General administrative costs, October through January. Q2,880.00 $385.54
Total: Q68,626.00 $9,186.88

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