COMSA, Honduras

COMSA was founded in December of 2001. Many members of the co-op belong to the indigenous Lenca tribe, and partly because of this influence many of their traditional sustainable organic farming practices have endured or been adopted.  Since their traditional techniques made the production costs outweigh the obtainable prices through the conventional commodity market, adopting farming practices geared towards organic certification and high quality was seen to be a solution. It also served as a way to reduce pollution, maintain the integrity and fertility of the land on which the community depends, alleviate poverty, and increase employment in the area. Since the majority of community members depend on farming for their livelihood, the secondary benefits of the knowledge acquired through these farming and processing practices are many.

COMSA, besides providing education to many coffee producers in neighboring countries, are innovators in some very exciting organic farming techniques and experiments. These include studies into carbon sequestration and new ways of drying harvested coffee, currently a challenging issue in this and other damp areas with heavy rainfall – notorious for ruining green coffee in the last stages of processing. They are also pioneers in recycling the wastewater and byproducts of ready-to-export coffee to create a nutrient-rich compost tea.  They use manure, husks and mucilage of the coffee beans, other plant matter, powdered volcanic rock and ash to balance the pH and enhance nutrient content of the wastewater. This is then used to grow vegetable and grain crops in less fertile soil (without resorting to chemical pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and unsustainable farming practices) or sold to other farmers. This important project is one many other organic coffee farming communities are emulating, since it contributes significantly to improved maturation and tissue re-growth in coffee plants afflicted by roya or coffee rust, a devastating epidemic that will likely reduce global coffee production by 30-35% in the next year or two (and accordingly producers’ incomes).

It is a dangerous time to espouse freedom, fairness and democracy in Honduras. The democratically elected President Zelaya, voted in on a platform of constitutional change, economic reform and social justice, was ousted in a military coup backed by Honduras’ ruling elite - the very same interests who stand to gain most from income inequality, injustice and oppression. The threat of violent suppression is very real, and lived with daily by the more vocal supporters of the People’s National Resistance Front.  We stand in solidarity with those who seek justice, dignity and fairness for all.