Credit Unions Support Organic Coffee Growers in Mexico

The news tells us that credit unions support organic coffee growers in Mexico. How does this fit into production of healthy organic coffee, sustainable agriculture, and better living standard for coffee growers? In a way growing coffee on a family coffee plantation is an act of faith. Growers trust in the sun, the rain, and soil to produce good coffee year after year. Growers rejuvenate the soil with compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. They space their coffee among other plants in shaded areas of a mountain side. The pickers harvest the coffee just when it is ready and then organic coffee is processed separate from any non-organic coffee which the grower produces. The producer separates and dries the coffee beans and either roasts them himself or sells his crop to a middle man. At this point the act of growing coffee turns into the business of growing coffee. Farmers the world over must deal local and international markets for their products. A coffee drinker in New York, London, Berlin, or Tokyo may be willing to pay $5 for a cup of hot organic coffee on the way to work in the morning. But members of Panama organic coffee cooperatives may only receive two or three dollars a pound for their product if they can sell it at all. Often such coffee farmers will take bags of coffee to the local tienda (small grocery store) to sell or barter for goods. So, what does this have to do with how credit unions support organic coffee growers in Mexico?

If may just take a few dollars, pesos, Bolivares, Colones, or Balboas to buy seed, replace a broken hoe, buy sacks to store coffee, and pay for transport of coffee to a place where the farmer can sell at a better price that on his mountainside. But, all too often, small operation campisinos (farmers) on their fincas (farms) do not have sufficient capital. Many countries and aid agencies sponsor micro loan programs for these farmers. The farmer receives loans of a little as $100 or its equivalent at the start of the growing season and pays it back after selling his harvest. The way that credit unions promote organic coffee growers in Mexico is simply a wider spread and more efficient means of accomplishing the same purpose. Easy credit for credit union members in Mexico translates into better profits for the farmer who is responsible for the aroma of organic coffee coming from your cup every morning. The program in Mexico was started with $4 million in seed money from the US Agency for International Development. The focus is to find out the best means of financing organic coffee farmers and improving their return on investment and way of life.

Now that credit unions promote organic coffee growers in Mexico, coffee farmers in the areas involved can focus on producing the best organic wholesale coffee and not worry so much about finding the extra peso or two needed to fix a broken tool or buy bags into which to pack their coffee. The intent is to stabilize the production system and help farmers achieve a reliably higher return for their work.

How credit unions promote organic coffee growers in Mexico goes to the heart of the organic system of production by rewarding those doing the work of producing a good product and protecting the environment at the same time.

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