Photos and background by Stuart Reid..
The Cooperative League of the USA ? CLUSA - was founded in 1916 to promote the growth of cooperatives in the U.S.
and since 1953 has provided technical assistance to cooperatives and other forms of group businesses in over 60 countries.
In Nicaragua, the small farmer project began in 1994. The goals of the project are:
To increase the income of small farmers
To provide technical training and assistance to improve yields and quality
To encourage environmentally sustainable farming practices
To create direct marketing systems that maximize producer incomes and connections to their consumers
To create linkages to processors, brokers and exporters
To improve business management capabilities
To increase rural employment
The project has been very successful. Wherever we visited farmers and processors, the tremendous pride they had in their
accomplishments was evident. This kind of development effort gives rural populations a chance to take control of the entire
farm to market food chain. By eliminating intermediaries, farmers retain nearly twice as much income from their crops and
can see the impact that freshness, quality and improved farming practices have on the marketability of their products.
One of the major successes of the project has been the development of organic coffee growers? cooperatives. With the
cooperatives? greater resources, the coffee growers have been able to start their own cupping facilities (for tasting,
evaluating and improving quality) and contract for processing and roasting. The result is an excellent organic coffee that
is roasted and packed to order in Nicaragua. The growers earn much more than they would if the sold their green coffee to a
broker, and every step in the process provides additional jobs in rural Nicaragua. Several Twin Cities co-ops have begun to
direct-import this ?Small Farmer? brand coffee. If you would like more information about the CLUSA project or how to obtain
the coffee, contact Stuart Reid at [email protected]
Click on individual photos to see them in a larger format and for the caption describing each photo.