Coffee, Community, and the Impact of Partnership

Geraldy Blandon & Ellie Hutchison | February 23, 2018 | Client Stories, Featured, Local Institutions

All his life, Enrique has called the rural town of El Cuá in northcentral Nicaragua home. Surrounded by fertile valleys and misty skies, the lush landscape exudes a sense of peace. Though he loves his home, his life here hasn’t been without its challenges.

At the age of 51, Enrique has lived through multiple tumultuous conflicts that have plagued the region.

The conflicts have exacerbated poverty and hindered the region’s coffee production, one of its main exports and sources of income for farmers like Enrique.

With a wife and five children, it has been Enrique’s dream to lift his family out of poverty and make a better life for them. A life where they aren’t just stuck getting by, but can plan and dream for the future.

However, as a small coffee producer in a rural area, that dream felt like it might never come true. His only option was to sell his crops to intermediaries at a price so low that he barely broke even.

Such is the reality for rural farmers like Enrique in Nicaragua—and for farmers around the world.

In rural communities, farmers often lack access to equitable value chains that pay them a fair price for their crops. They are too often isolated and independent, without the strength in numbers that a cooperative can provide. Despite their hard work, they are left living in poverty with little opportunity to get ahead.

But ten years ago, an opportunity emerged for Enrique. And he took it.

He connected with our local partner PAC (Pueblos en Accion Comunitario, translated as People’s Community Action). PAC works to end poverty and food insecurity in rural Nicaragua. They do this by advocating for rural farmers; equipping them with training and loans; and providing them with access to large, international markets.

Through connecting with PAC, Enrique began receiving financing, technical support, agricultural training, and crop certifications. With this help, his farm’s productivity increased, and the quality of his coffee improved.

Plus, PAC connected Enrique to global markets and helped his coffee receive fair-trade certification. As a result, he now earns a premium price for his products.

With PAC’s help, Enrique has been able to increase his farm size from 50 to 125 acres of land. His coffee production has increased too, from 150 to 1,000 sacks of coffee per harvest!

Enrique’s success has had a positive ripple effect in his community.

During harvest season, he employs 50 people to help on his farm—50 desperately-needed jobs that allow low-income workers to support themselves and their families.

As for Enrique’s family, they have finally become able not just to break even, but to truly get ahead. They have a new home, the stability and peace of mind that comes from a steady income, and enough left over to save for the future.

Their dreams are no longer just dreams, but actual possibilities.

While PAC provides immense practical value in these ways, Enrique also cherishes the broader lessons he has gleaned from their partnership. He has learned the importance of honesty and transparency—in business and in life—as well as the necessity of taking care of the environment.

In reflecting on the past ten years of partnership, Enrique shares: “We need the support… as a producer I cannot achieve it alone, but with PAC and Partners Worldwide, we have done it.”

Working in partnership—Partners Worldwide staff members, volunteer mentors, local community partners like PAC, and farmers like Enrique—we can achieve more than we could ever achieve alone.

We need one another’s unique skills, passions, knowledge, perspectives, and connections. We need all voices at the table if we are to move the needle on poverty. Enrique’s story demonstrates that together, in partnership, we can create a more flourishing world.

Geraldy Blandon & Ellie Hutchison

Geraldy Blandon & Ellie Hutchison

Nicaragua Partnership Manager | Communications Specialist

Managua, Nicaragua | Grand Rapids, MI

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