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Despite the fact that coffee is a fairly high price commodity, coffee farmers often struggle to earn enough income to support their families due to a gap between farmers’ current income and a living wage.

On August 14, 2014, Heifer International Guatemala will host the Closing the Gap Conference in Guatemala City, where Heifer and like-minded development organizations such as World Vision, Root Capital, Mercy Corps and the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Foundation will come together with representatives from the Guatemalan and U.S. governments, researchers from local universities, cooperatives and Heifer’s local partner organizations to discuss how to work with coffee farmers to close the income gap.

Around 50 guests have been invited to the conference. Heifer’s representatives will be Pierre Ferrari, president and chief executive officer; Oscar Castañeda, vice president of the Americas; Marleen New, senior director of global partnerships and alliances; Carol Moore, director of global partnership development; and Gustavo Hernandez, Heifer International Guatemala director.

“We’re expecting great participation and collaboration (at the conference) in the hopes of working with coffee farmers to give them hope for a dignified life,” said Castañeda, who is also one of the event presenters.

Rick Peyser, who has played a critical role in working to improve the quality of life of coffee farmers through his work with Keurig/Green Mountain, will also present on what Castañeda calls “the starting point of the story,” los meses flacos, or the “thin months,” a name synonymous in Central America with the months of seasonal scarcity coffee growers face in non-harvest months. Peyser’s experience with this research spans more than a decade, and Keurig/Green Mountain and Heifer International have collaborated on projects to alleviate farmers from the thin months in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

David Rinck, managing director at Absolute Options, and Eugenio Javier Incer, researcher at Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala City, will also share their research working with smallholder coffee farmers in Soconusco, Mexico, and Huehuetenango, Guatemala, respectively. Both studies were commissioned by Heifer International.

Ferrari, Peyser and Dr. Eduardo Stein will comprise a discussion panel at the end of the day, as well.


Jason Woods

Jason Woods is from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and has worked for the Americas Area Program of Heifer International since 2010. He has a master’s in cultural geography and a bachelor’s in news-editorial journalism. His passion for Heifer’s work started as a teenager, when he spent a weekend at Heifer Ranch’s Global Village in Perryville, Arkansas.