Updates, and progress, from Luis Alberto Vasquez in Nicaragua
We last reported on Luis Alberto Vasquez in May of last year. The co-operative was devastated by the coffee leaf rust epidemic and had seen reductions in their harvests from an average of 90,000 lbs. per year to about 7,000. They responded with resolve and sweat equity, utilizing support from Just Us!, Etico, and their parent co-operative, Prodecoop, to replant half of their entire farm with 156,000 new coffee trees. Their goal was to replant the entire farm, and contribute to its health by producing and applying their own Organic fertilizers.
A recent update from Luis Alberto Vasquez produced some good news: Co-op members have now replanted their entire farm – 314,000 trees in total on their 83 ‘manzanas’ of land, or approximately 140 acres. This is a significant accomplishment, and a strong investment in their farm and future livelihoods. The most remote and difficult to access parts of the farm were replanted this year.
On a collective farm like this, ‘brigades’ – groups of farmers who work together on a task – are paid a day-wage set by the co-operative. In recognition of the tough times, the farmers decided to be paid 40% of their normal day wage to replant the farm. The other 60%, in essence, was reinvested in their future in the form of thousands of young coffee trees.
Meanwhile, another 15,000 trees are sprouting in the Co-op’s nursery, the usual number planned for annual replanting, signaling that the farmers are looking forward to a more stable future. The diversification of the farm is also impressive, with citrus trees, avocados, cinnamon, guava, passion fruit, and a number of indigenous varieties of bananas.
With their investment safely in the ground, the farmers of Luis Alberto Vasquez are expecting a full harvest in 2017.