Better Coffee Harvest

Coffee is one of the most important economic activities for rural families in many parts of Central America. The Better Coffee Harvest (Cosechemos Mas Cafe) project is a four-year initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the J.M. Smucker Company and the PIMCO Foundation to reduce poverty and increase farm sales for coffee farmers in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Opportunity

Coffee leaf rust was devastating coffee farmers throughout Central America, as it infected the plants' leaves, making them unable to absorb the sunglight they need to survive. Once the rust infects a plant, it is nearly impossible to contain. As a result, the epidemic ravaged coffee crops across Central America, afflicting half of the one million acres of coffee planted in the region. 

Strategy

Better Coffee Harvest aimed to improve the lives of 6,000 coffee farmers in El Salvador and Nicaragua – countries where coffee is a vital cash crop for smallholders, but where yields are among the lowest in Latin America and many farmers struggle to lift themselves out of poverty.

The project gave these farmers the skills they needed to transform their farms into profitable businesses by training them on yield-enhancing, climate-smart agricultural practices that would boost their resilience to disease. By connecting farmers with improved access to finance and inputs, Better Harvest ensured farmers could implement these new techniques well into the future.

Results

By its close, the project trained 11,000 farmers – 27 percent of whom were women – and established more than 400 coffee demonstration plots used for training purposes. The project helped farmers increase their yields by 50 percent and their incomes by 18 percent. Meet some of the farmers who participated in the Better Coffee Harvests project.