STRENGTHENING THE ORGANIC COFFEE PRODUCTION CHAIN
A project that tackles the root causes of poverty
and migration, prioritizing human development with Focusing
This project is part of the framework of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative, financed by the European Union and administered by UNDP. Three projects were approved in Ecuador. The project "Strengthening the Organic Coffee Production Chain in Loja" is implemented by the Ecuadorian Cooperation Fund for Development (Fondo Ecuatoriano de Cooperación para el Desarrollo – FECD), and aims to improve the living conditions of coffee producer families in three counties within the province of Loja. This particular area in Ecuador has the highest incidence of migration to Spain in relation to its population.
This project works with two groups: first, with the coffee producers in Loja, and second, with migrants from Loja that are living in Spain (with support of the Spanish NGO Peace and Development (Paz y Desarrollo)).
Families living in poverty and extreme poverty have achieved improvements in their production processes by increasing their production areas, adopting technical practices for managing their coffee crops, and improving post-harvest processes. As a result, the product obtained is one of the best quality coffees in Ecuador, winner of several national awards, and with a high demand in North American, European and Asian markets, at competitive prices. Farmers thereby improve their income.
Additionally, alliances have been created with three local credit and savings cooperatives to implement financial products tailored to the needs of the producers. One of them consists of a loan for the producer’s organization for a value three times greater than the guarantee fund provided by the project. This loan is designated for purchasing the output from all of the members at harvest time. Each producer receives the value of their product in his/her own savings account and the cooperative recovers its credit when the organization receives the payment for exporting the coffee. Therefore, conditions are safe and profitable for the farmers, organizations and cooperatives.
These factors have caused an increase in remittances sent from Spain by Ecuadorian migrants. Now that each person’s savings is being directly deposited into their accounts, credit cooperatives have in turn seen an increase in their liquidity on par with the demand for credit. This generates an active economic dynamic in three of the poorest counties of Ecuador. Additionally, there has been a slow gradual increase in the return of migrants and their reintegration into their families.
All these factors shape a bright future, however, more profound actions are required to ensure the sustainability of the initiated processes, via changes in attitudes reflected in a greater commitment and sense of belonging of the farmers to their organizations, in a integral vision of development that includes issues such as environment, culture, health and education and above all, in a real and felt sense in the individuals that their standards of living have improved. This is where FECD’s work, based conceptually, scientifically and philosophically on Focusing , takes a decisive role.
Teaching "checking with the body" has been prioritized for leaders, technicians and farmers, a practice that is hidden within us but has been forgotten by humans and that, once one succeeds in incorporating it permanently, it produces a qualitative and vital shift in individuals, who learn to listen to themselves, listen to others and interact with their environment in a comprehensive manner, from the attention to their own bodily sensations, or as Eugene Gendlin calls it, a “felt sense”. This kind of training for people, capable of training themselves and others in the practice of Focusing, aims towards the sustainability of development projects. The incorporation of this practice, helps individuals cope with their conditions from their authenticity, in a framework of respect for themselves, their families, partners and organizations; it increases productivity and creativity and produces a real sense of improvement in their quality of life, stemming from their own revaluation, a greater understanding of themselves and a better family and social environment.
This project strides to surpass its quantitative achievements: 700 to 1,000 families that have increased their income; that have produced half a million coffee plants, and that have commercialized about US$ 300,000. Its impact will be greater in the next two or three years, based on the individual development of producers, their leaders, their families and organizations. FECD is committed to continue supporting this process in a constructive alliance with UNDP.