Tinamit Tolimán Integral: Creating Local Supply Chains of Specialty Coffee in Guatemala

April 30, 2020

Tinamit Tolimán Integral is one of many agricultural cooperatives participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food for Progress (FFP) 2016 program, implemented by Counterpart International in Guatemala.

The Cooperative was established in 2018 by 10 female and 20 male coffee producers in the area of San Lucas Tolimán, next to beautiful Lake Atitlán. Members of the Cooperative, among them five former emigrants who returned from the United States to Guatemala, were able to quickly establish market contacts in the U.S., and as of 2019, they were producing and selling about 20 metric tons (44,092lbs) of coffee to Dark Horse Coffee of San Francisco. However, to grow and increase production, the Cooperative needed to improve their production techniques and technologies, as well as management and marketing systems.  The Cooperative needed assistance.

Since 2018, Counterpart’s FFP project has supported the Ruta Ecológica Café Atitlán (Ecological Coffee Rout of Atitlán) initiative managed by local partner Anacafé, the biggest association of coffee producers in Guatemala. The main objective of this initiative is to create local supply chains of specialty coffee to serve the growing tourism industry around Lake Atitlán and create a culture of local specialty coffee consumption.

Tinamit Tolimán did not miss the opportunity to benefit from this project. Since 2019, the members of the Cooperative have been receiving comprehensive technical assistance, including on-the-job practical training to improve agricultural techniques and practices, reduce post-harvest losses, improve coffee quality, and build and sustain effective management and marketing of coffee production.

With the assistance of the project, the Cooperative developed a new business strategy and set goals for the coming years. The first results of these activities were visible in less than six months of the Cooperative’s participation in the project:  The Cooperative increased its production by 100% and is currently producing about 40 metric tons (88,184lbs) of quality gold coffee.

What is even more exciting is that the Cooperative started its marketing campaign for packaged roasted coffee in the local market. Packaged roasted coffee sells for a significantly higher price and brings increased revenue for all members. Today, the Cooperative sells one-half ton of packaged roasted coffee in the local market, particularly to the hotels operating in the lake area. A contract was signed with the Tolimán Hotel and Restaurant to deliver packaged ground coffee which generates even higher income.. As of December 2019, the Cooperative has sold 600 kilograms of packaged ground coffee to the Hotel.

Due to increasing production and sales, as well as the local consumption of the coffee, the Cooperative created dozens of temporary and permanent new jobs, including in harvesting, transportation, packaging, and sales.

With assistance from Counterpart and Anacafé, the Cooperative is now setting even more ambitious plans for further growth, including capital investments in roasting equipment and technologies, allowing for further increase both the export and local sales of the coffee. USDA’s FFP program has two main objectives: Increased production and increased trade of agricultural produce. In the process of reaching these goals, the program widely improves the local social and economic situation of residents in the target communities by increasing household income, creating jobs, reducing emigration, and improving the overall quality of life. Counterpart has been implementing FFP program in Guatemala since 2012, assisting more than 50,000 farmers in the most vulnerable communities of the Western Highlands of the country.

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