There are several possible projects in the works in the parish of Dulce Nombre.
The first is going along rather swiftly.
In January when Fr. Jon Seda came from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, he was accompanied by a young man who had graduated from Iowa State a few years ago and had visited Dulce Nombre in 2011.He had interest in initiating a direct marketing of coffee from some small coffee producers in the parish.
He spoke with two producers from different villages who provided samples. I insisted that what I considered important was that the producers organize themselves and that some investment be made in their work. I think this is the best way to proceed since it does not make the US partner a mere buyer and helps the local coffee producers work together.
A month later one of the men told me that he had 15 small coffee producers interested. They later met and formed themselves into a cooperative, with officers – though only with 14 members, since one had gone to the US.
A few months later I sent samples from three of the coop members to the US contact. He had them toasted and taste-tested by a small organization that toasts and distributes coffee. The quality of the samples was very good and there is interest in buying from the coop.
There are many steps to be taken to get this really going, but they are meeting and I am helping them with some contacts to help them get official recognition as well as put together a plan of action to maintain and improve the quality of the coffee.
Next week four of them and I are going to visit La UniónMicrofinanza which does direct marketing of coffee.
The second possibility is in process.
A few months ago someone donated a manzana (1.68 acres) of land planted with coffee to the parish. The coffee, of the newly-developed OBATA variety, had been planted in August of last year. It thus won’t give a decent yield until the 2016 or 2017 harvest. The parish also has the opportunity of buying a contiguous manzana planted with OBATA and is hoping for some financing.
Padre German’s idea is to use the yields of the coffee to finance the parish’s formation process, as a way to become a little self-sustaining.
Each month a sector from the parish is going out to weed or fertilize the fields or to enclosed the land with barbed wire (to prevent cattle from entering the field.) This year corn has been planted in the field and so this should help generate some funds or, at least, provide corn for the parish’s meetings.
|Corn and coffee|
The third possible project is still in the discussion phase.
A US non-profit is interested in starting a medical clinic in the Dulce Nombre area and is seeking the cooperation of the parish. They propose to assist funding for a number of years with the plan of helping the clinic become self-sustaining. I think they also see this as a way to help local medical professionals, many of whom are unemployed.
I hope this comes to fruition since I think this might be a good way to involve some of my friends and acquaintances who are in the medical professions.
There are probably other possibilities which I’ll see when I’m living out in the parish, but that will have to wait a few months.