Santa Bárbara in northwestern Honduras is considered the oldest coffee-growing region in the country. Besides a poorly developed infrastructure and limited agricultural and ecological knowledge, steep slopes make growing and harvesting coffee difficult.
The productivity of the mainly small coffee farms is low, and there is a lack of business management skills. This results in low sales revenues and difficult living conditions.
Heavy rainfall and drought due to climate change or coffee rust, a plant disease, can also result in crop failures and poor harvests.
We want to help local people improve their prospects by helping them to help themselves.
Our goal is to keep coffee cultivation attractive in the region through H.E.L.P. and to help it become more sustainable. This is why we provide targeted help to self-help with a focus on the following:
H.E.L.P. gives coffee growers economic, ecological and social assistance intended to help them achieve long-term security. Alongside the sometimes difficult cultivation conditions for coffee in Santa Bárbara, harvests depend on many external factors. Heavy rainfall and drought caused by climate change, and coffee rust, a plant disease, can lead to bad harvests.
But some of the risks can be mitigated, and to do so, through H.E.L.P. we are assisting with reforestation for mixed cultivation, planting shade-giving plants that also reduce soil erosion, and the development of new coffee varieties that are immune to coffee rust.
To improve coffee quality, H.E.L.P. includes local coaching given by a team of trained agronomists, including an introduction to better soil and shade management for cultivated areas, and instruction on grafting and plant regeneration.
Coffee farmers also learn about plant nutrition, coffee quality, processing and marketing coffee, and the business fundamentals of inventory management, cost-benefit analyses and refinancing. Other topics are measures to combat pests and disease, wastewater management, erosion prevention, protective clothing and strategic decision-making.
After an analysis of the farms’ current situations, individual development plans are prepared together with the participants. Farmers receive ongoing training and learn different methods of coffee cultivation.
For example, at the start of coaching soil samples are analysed in order to identify individual measures to improve the soil productivity at a particular farm.
Among the methods from the coaching that have shown quick results are coffee plant regeneration techniques...
...and the construction of sun dryers to dry the coffee berries. The project encourages coffee growers not just to learn, but also to take active part, contribute their own suggestions and help each other in groups. In the future this will take place at a model farm.