How Coffee Farmers in Honduras are Coming Together to Earn Better Prices
In Honduras, TechnoServe is helping coffee farmers like Luis Olvera improve their coffee and join local producer organizations. In doing so, they can connect to better markets and sell their coffee in bulk directly to exporters, gaining better prices and better livelihoods.
In El Capiro, a remote community perched high in the mountains of northern Honduras, coffee is a way of life. Farmers here have been producing coffee for generations, but poor growing techniques, limited quality control, and low prices made it difficult for them to earn a living. The situation was so bleak that several farmers considered selling the farms they had owned for decades.
Luis Olvera was one of those farmers. After trying unsuccessfully to get a loan from the bank, he had almost given up hope that he could maintain his farm and support his family. “Though we tried our best to scale up our business, we failed,” he recalls. Without access to formal loans, farmers like Luis struggle to invest in their land. They are often caught in a familiar cycle: limited capital, low returns, and stagnant growth.
In 2013, TechnoServe began working with over 5,000 coffee farmers in Honduras through the Sustainable Agricultural Improvement Project (MAS+ in Spanish), funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. At the time, Luis and his neighbors were part of La Inmensa Jornada producer organization — but they were still selling their coffee through intermediaries or second-tier organizations for low prices.
Luis and 64 other members received hands-on training to improve the quality and quantity of their coffee harvests. TechnoServe also partnered with private coffee exporters to integrate smallholder farmers into agricultural supply chains and market systems by providing training, finance, and technical assistance. This unique approach combines a focus on quality and sustainability to produce benefits for farmers and their communities. “TechnoServe came and instilled in us the confidence that we needed and guided us in every step,” Luis says.
Operating as a consolidated group, the farmers can now sell their coffee in bulk directly to exporters, connect to better markets, and keep more of the crop’s value. Luis estimates that he earned roughly $3,300 more in revenue this past season due to his participation in the MAS program. With the extra income, he feels secure that he can send his children to school and feed them a wholesome diet. Luis was able to upgrade his old house to a safer, brick house with cement floors instead of dirt floors. He also built a new warehouse to store his coffee and grains. He soon plans to invest in a car to transport the coffee from the members’ coffee farms to the local coffee processing facility, or wet mill.
New Opportunities for Coffee Cuppers
The returns on investment have been more than just financial. With thriving members, La Inmensa Jornada was able to help one of its members, Edis Olvera, become a professional coffee taster, or “cupper”. In 2018, Edis graduated from ESCOBCAFE, a school that teaches the sons and daughters of coffee farmers how to become coffee cuppers.
The experience opened doors that he couldn’t have imagined before. Edis’ knowledge of quality coffee has not only helped him find full-time employment with La Inmensa Jornada, but has helped coffee farming families in El Capiro produce better coffee that fetches a higher price, bringing new prosperity to the community.
A Brighter Future
Members of La Inmensa Jornada are now reaping the rewards of their hard work. The community has already started putting their extra income to use, investing collectively in building a new school for children in El Capiro, who previously had to walk long distances to attend school in a neighboring area. With better access to education, coffee producers’ children will grow up with more opportunities, both on and off the farm.