Multiple efforts had been made to improve the production of coffee in the field. However, it was necessary to address weaknesses in the processing of the final grain and in the differentiation between organic coffee and conventional coffee. A Compact Ecological Processing Unit (UCBE) was purchased to process the organic coffee (Photo 6.4). This unit reduces the water required
Photo 6.4 Compact ecological processing unit (UCBE) purchased to process organic coffee
for processing from 800 L to only 11 L (for 258 kg of coffee), also reducing contamination and the cost of treatment of residual water. In addition, there is a significant saving in energy, since there is no need to use the main plant to process the small amounts of coffee produced at the beginning and at the end of the harvesting season.
The use of the new unit also reduced the time from depulping to storage from ten days in conventional processing to three days, which increases the grain yield and quality. All these improvements resulted in the Coopemontes de Oro processing plant being granted ISO 14000 certification, which implies an improvement regarding environmental quality.
Farmers were receptive to the improvements suggested. From a total of 250 farmers from Montes de Oro, Puntarenas, 10% went into organic farming and are certified by ECOLOGICA. Their production was sold at USD 200/100 kg
Home garden experiences in Costa Rica 125 of roasted coffee in 2006; 80% sell their coffee as fair trade with a price of USD 131/100 kg; the rest of the producers are conventional, and their production is paid at USD 80/100 kg.
Introduction of protein sources of animal origin
Pasture hens were introduced in order to increase the consumption of animal protein through the availability of meat and eggs (Photo 6.5). At the same time gandul (Cajanus cajan) was sown in the areas surrounding the henhouses as a way to reduce the dependency and the cost of commercial chicken feed. Both animals and humans could eat this grain. Annatto (Bixa orelland), plantain (Mwsa spp.) corn, sweet potato and beans were also sown and the surplus egg production was sold in the community.
Photo 6.5 Pasture hens and plants sown for feed, Cano Negro, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 2011
Photos 6.6a and 6.6b Care network organization for women involved in vegetable and tree production, Cano Negro, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 2011
A care network for women and children was organized with the aim of giving women equal opportunities to participate in training and in the fieldwork production of trees and vegetables. A physical space was set up with a roof, chairs, table and some hammocks. This care network was led by women in advanced stages of pregnancy, by women who were breastfeeding, or by women who did not have the physical ability for the field work. These women were in charge of feeding and taking care of children. Moreover, children were equipped with sheets of paper and colored pencils to facilitate their entertainment while their mothers were at work (Photos 6.6a and 6.6b).
This work could not be done without the aid of Allan González, Johel Chavez, Luis Alpizar, Farmers Association of Cedral, Victor Julio Arce and the financial support from the Dutch Government; Fundecooperación and CONARE Costa Rica.
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