Partner Profile: Manos Campesinas

Written by Cafe Campesino on Jul 4, 2009 in Article, NEWSLETTER |

Manos Campesinas

As you may know, Café Campesino has some roots in Guatemala. In fact, it is the place that our idea of buying coffee directly from the small-scale farmers was first realized. That was more than ten years ago and, to this day, Guatemalan coffee remains a strong and popular source of some of our best coffee.

Around the same time that Café Campesino was taking shape, another organization was forming in hopes of promoting coffee for the farmers of the nearby regions in Guatemala. Manos Campesinas was founded in 1997 and has been exporting coffee beans to the US and Europe since 1998. An umbrella organization owned by the 9 farmer cooperatives that it represents, Manos Campesinas has been a valuable advocate and advisor to the farmers in the regions of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltenango, and Solola.

They currently represent more than 1100 member owners, all of which are small-scale farmers, and 20% of which are women. Their work focuses on helping groups of farmers with the organizational and administrative improvements needed for efficient business; marketing and sales support in the world market; and valuable technical assistance to maximize each farmer’s coffee production as well as maintain good stewardship over the land. They also help to “fill in the gap” when it comes to securing the finances needed for investment in improving coffee yields for their membership.

These concerted efforts have resulted in effective commercialization of the farmers’ crops that then translates into higher prices paid to those farmers, higher quality coffee for you and me, and, ultimately, a higher quality of life for the families who depend on coffee farming for their livelihood. There’s still a ways to go to help all of the coffee growers in need of assistance as many remote farms still struggle to take advantage of the better opportunities that become available as part of a cooperative. But Manos Campesinas is working diligently and effectively to bring more and more family farms into the group. We’re thankful for their efforts and appreciate the partnership that they provide.

You might remember the recent visit of Miguel Mateo of Manos Campesinas. Miguel told us about his work in Guatemala and helped us to gain some more perspective on the positive changes that are taking place as a result of the fair trade partnerships that he and his co-workers continue to work towards. One highlight we’d like to mention: Recently, Manos Campesinas was able to provide school scholarships to a few of the children of their member families and they hope to continue to expand this program benefit in the future.

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