Led by local Guatemalan cooperative coffee federation Fedecocagua and supported by NCBA CLUSA, Feed the Future launched the five-year Guatemala Coffee Value Chains Project this month.
U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Luis E. Arreaga attended the launch ceremony along with community members from the departments and regions where the project will be working: Quiché, Huehuetenango and San Marcos.
Guatemala is among the 12 priority countries for investment under the new Global Strategy for Food Security, which aims provide access to markets for farmers, support innovative agricultural approaches to face current and future challenges, and help communities be more resilient to climate change.
Funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future initiative, the project aims to reduce poverty and chronic malnutrition by increasing agricultural incomes and improving the resilience of 15,000 small farmers and their families.
The project launched this month during the annual meeting of Fedecocagua’s member co-ops, hosted at their industrial coffee warehouse outside of Guatemala City in Escuintla.
"It is a source of pride for me, as a representative of the United States Government, to participate in the development of sustainable productive activities that generate new jobs for men and women, creating prosperity in the municipalities of the Western Highlands," said Ambassador Arreaga.
Feed The Future reported that support for community organizations like Fedecocagua are the ideal framework to raise the level of quality of life of the participating communities.
"Spontaneous community organization is the correct way to bring development to rural Guatemalan communities, driven by successful insertion in the national and international coffee market," Feed the Future said in a statement, according to local Guatemalan newspaper El Periodico.
Amy Coughenour Betancourt, COO of International Programs for NCBA CLUSA, was also in attendance.
“This is a significant moment in time for cooperative leadership in Guatemala. Not only is USAID making a significant investment, but this project will also demonstrate that cooperatives can lead market-driven economic development, as well as social benefits to members and their communities,” Betancourt said. “We are here to support those efforts as a technical partner and as a cooperative development organization.”
Read El Periodico's original coverage in Spanish.