Training and Implementation of Coffee Solar Drying Modules
- Community Growth
The main objective of this project is to strengthen the capabilities and knowledge of local coffee farmers in order to improve their economic situation. We will achieve this through 3 strategies: (1) Strengthening farmers' knowledge of best practices in the coffee post-harvest & drying processes; (2) Training farmers to build and use solar drying modules to improve the quality of their coffee; and (3) Working with farmers to develop and implement business plans for their farms. All three strategies will result in improved coffee quality and an increase in profitability. The drying of coffee beans is a critical step in the post harvest process. The methods used to dry the beans and the humidity of the beans greatly influence the storage life and quality of the coffee. Current methods employed by local farmers result in contaminated product with inconsistent humidity % and lower quality. A small investment in better drying facilities is proven to have a large impact on product quality. Also, through their business plans, the farmers will identify opportunities to improve their farm management and finances and open new markets to sell their improved coffee.
There have been many meetings between coffee producers/associations and the local municipality to discuss solutions to the coffee crisis. There have been many projects of agricultural development with coffee farmers managed by the Municipality to understand the needs and deficiencies of local producers that are affecting product quality. One such project is the one supporting farmers nearby. In all of these meetings/projects, the lack of proper drying modules is mentioned as an obstacle to higher quality coffee. In addition, farmers have been participating in entrepreneurial fairs in order to promote the 'culture of coffee' to local residents and raise the awareness of local coffee quality. Once a group of farmers is trained on the best practices of building and using solar drying modules, they have the knowledge & skills to (a) build additional modules on their farms and (b) teach others in their associations how to build and use them. The participating farmers will be taught proper maintenance practices to repair and replace components as required. For example, the plastic sheeting needs replacing after 3 years, on average. The additional revenue they earn from producing higher quality coffee will cover the maintenance costs. Through business plan training, they will be taught to budget for maintenance costs.