From November 3-6, representatives from Heifer International will be participating in Let’s Talk Roya in El Salvador. La roya del café, or coffee rust, is a rapidly spreading fungus that infects the foliage of a coffee tree, and it has been devastating, especially in recent years, to coffee farmers throughout Latin America.
According to its website, Let’s Talk Roya is “expected to be the largest global training and workshop ever focused directly on Roya and its long term impact,” and it “will bring together those impacted by Roya in Latin America to learn about the disease, coordinate recovery, and mitigate the long term consequences of the outbreak.” Among those who will be attending are producers, importers, roasters, governments, NGOs, agronomists and researchers. Let’s Talk Roya is organized by Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, a global importer of high-quality, specialty-grade coffees.
On Tuesday, November 5, Oscar Castañeda, vice president of Americas Area at Heifer International, will be representing the organization at a panel titled, “Weathering the Storm: Income Diversification and Food Security for Rust-Affected Farmers.” The session is hosted by Root Capital, and the description notes that there “are no quick fixes to the coffee rust epidemic,” and panel members Heifer International, Food 4 Farmers and Cooperativa Maya Ixil “will examine concrete strategies for diversifying sources of income and nutritious food for coffee producing households.”
To date, Heifer has started or implemented ten projects, nine funded by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, to support about 10,000 coffee-farming families in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. In these countries, Heifer is currently providing animals, crops and training to families so that they don’t have to rely only on coffee harvests to support themselves. Additionally, Heifer’s most recent coffee projects work to mitigate the effects of coffee rust while training coffee cooperatives in best business practices and preparing small-scale farmers to provide higher-quality, more environmentally friendly coffee in larger quantities to those that process and sell the coffee. The higher quality and greater quantity of coffee not only improves the income of the farmers, but also the income of the processers and sellers.
In the panel, Castañeda will be describing these projects and discussing the successes and challenges that are a part of Heifer’s work with coffee farmers in Latin America.
Other Heifer International representatives who are attending the event include:
· Cesar Durantes, Mexico project coordinator
· Gustavo Hernandez, Guatemala country director
· Marco Machado, Honduras country director
· Leonardo Mendieta, Ecuador technical assistant
· Marcio Montiel, Nicaragua program manager
· Virginia Murillo, technical and cost proposal development director
· Marleen New, director of Global Partnerships and Alliances
· Edwin Rocha, director of programs and change management
· Daniel Vildozo, Bolivia country director
Photo credit: Russell Powell