Monday, January 16, 2012

Traffic in the countryside

This past weekend I went out twice to El Zapote de Santa Rosa – for the zone meeting on Saturday and for the Mass to celebrate the feast of the Black Christ on Sunday.

Marco Tulio distributing communion in El Zapote

What surprised me was the number of trucks and pick up I ran across – more than I ever remember.

A different type of traffic in Dulce Nombre - 15 cows and 12 calves

We are in the middle of the coffee harvest and many people are going out to help in the coffee harvest, one of the few ways that rural people have to earn hard cash.

This year the normal price for what they call a gallon (really more like a five gallon bucket) of coffee en uva (with the fruit covering) is 40 lempiras (about $2.00).

Also, those who have small fincas de café (coffee farms) are harvesting their coffee. What they often have to do is to sell their coffee to an intermediary buyer (sometimes called, disparagingly, a coyote). Now they are getting 180 lempiras (about $9.00) thirty pounds of coffee en uva. If they take out the skin and the pulp they can get 440 lempiras (about $22) for thirty pounds. A few weeks ago the price was 480 lempiras (about $24), but since there’s more coffee available now the price has gone down.

If they were able to remove the thin skin that surrounds the coffee bean they would get a higher price, but I don’t know anyone who does this.

Trucks bringing in coffee to what I think is an intermediary in Candelaria

I would really like to find a way to help the small coffee farmers find a direct market where they could be paid better prices. There are some projects that do this including one in La Union, Lempira, that seems to be doing this fairly well. Check out their webpage. But this has been a concentrated effort of a team of persons in Michigan. I’d love to be able to so something like that in the parish of Dulce Nombre, but the costs might be high and the need for expertise a challenge.

Who knows? This is a long-range goal and there may be campesinos in the parish interested.  It could make a real difference.

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