Guatemala – Coffee commercialization project

Project: Consolidate a coffee marketing scheme

Country: Guatemala

VSP Expert: Fabio Vezzi

Beneficiary: Asorech, a regional cooperative, with social activities organized on a variety of activities to support the evolution of the population such as:

  • Agricultural products, primarily coffee, but also red beans, bananas, vegetables,
  • Wood crafts, textiles, ceramics,
  • Rural tourism,
  • Management of forests timber.

Asorech’s mission is to combat the precarious living conditions of the local population and to make constant contributions to increasing their working skills. Chortì is a mountainous region, with a strong population of ancient Mayan origin, most of which still speaks the language or some dialects. Many of the older residents are illiterate and often do not even speak Spanish. Consequently, their level of life is very modest. Asorech “deals” with a community of about 30,000 people, with brilliant results in recent years. His action also benefited from a renewed social peace in Guatemala after a devastating civil war lasted until the mid-1990s.

Mission Goal: To consolidate a coffee marketing scheme (of high quality and appreciated on international markets), which is the first source of income in the country and the region. Unfortunately, production has so far been sold to large speculators and international operators due to the lack of specific capacity of small producers to coordinate and market themselves.

A premise: This is the third VSP mission in Guatemala. In the first two sets of measures have been set to overcome the above mentioned difficulties. It’s not just about having better business contacts, but above all setting all the measures that make the coffee maker strong and reliable, such as:

  • Definition of quality standards and adaptation to small producers
  • Availability of collection and storage centers for the finished product
  • International certification and crop classification
  • Creating a local fair, with visitors / buyers from other regions and from abroad
  • Deepening of credit conditions and instruments access and agreement with transporters for deliveries.

These measures were set in previous missions, while the one in question aimed to verify, with Asorech, their implementation and compliance with market requirements.

Key Conclusions: The ability to evolve a coffee internationalization system is directly linked not only to the capabilities of the operator but also to the time needed to change the conditions. Being able to operate in three phases has made it possible to achieve remarkable results, as outlined above. Asorech now has all those supportive factors for the marketing promoted. Coffee growers have started to see their own livelihoods rising and market in a more serene way. The process has yet to evolve thanks to the daily practice coordinated by Asorech, but it is well launched and the Association works with greater confidence and professionalism.

A final comment: the ability to analyze problems, set solutions, let them implement the “beneficiary” and then check it is necessary if you want to evolve a reality. This is usually only possible with at least two or three missions in collaboration with the same beneficiary.