The Aftermath of Two Hurricanes

While Central American coffee farmers were assessing the damage from Hurricane Eta, another tropical depression was forming in the Caribbean that would rapidly intensify and follow near the same course just 13 days after Eta landed.

Hurricane Iota made landfall on Nov. 16 with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph just 15 miles south of where Eta made landfall. It was the second category 4 storm to hit Nicaragua in under 2 weeks.

Unleashing days of heavy rains and wind on already damaged roads and powerlines, Iota has left many coffee farmers in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala isolated.

To make matters worse, many people who moved to local shelters to flee possible landslides and flooding are now at increased risk of contracting Covid-19.

Donate to Support Coffee Farmers in Crisis

Our importer, Cooperative Coffees, has started a GoFundMe page to support our producer partners affected by this crisis. Learn more about Cooperative Coffees’ fundraising efforts here.

To learn more about the impact of Hurricanes Eta and Iota on individual cooperatives, read more below. Opportunities to donate to specific cooperatives are also linked below.

Nicaragua

Two coffee cooperatives we source from in northern Nicaragua have been greatly impacted by the hurricanes.

PROCOCER

PROCOCER represents some 300 small-scale farmers in northern Nicaragua, many of whom live near the town of El Jicaro.

PROCOCER farmers are experiencing: damaged roadways, loss of power and communication and the significant loss of corn crops at lower elevations, which was a vital food source for some communities.

There has been limited damage to PROCOCER coffee crops, which are still on the trees, but inaccessible roadways will make coffee collection and export a challenge.

The video to the left was provided by members of PROCOCER. It captures a landslide after Hurricane Eta.

Click here to Support PROCOCER

Las Diosas

Some 362 women from a collection of communities west and mostly south of PROCOCER make up the women’s cooperative, Las Diosas.

Las Diosas’s membership hails from towns near the city of Esteli, including the towns of Dipilto, Jinotega, Madriz, Santa Teresa de Guasuyuca, Yali, and other smaller communities.

During Hurricane Eta, Las Diosas’s offices in Finca San Pedro flooded and numerous landslides blocked roads and impeded travel. Crops of hibiscus and corn were lost.

In both hurricanes, many women moved to government shelters in local schools, where they would be able to sustain the threat of heavy flooding and landslides but would also be susceptible to contracting Covid-19.

The Aftermath of Two Hurricanes 1
Lost corn crop due to flooding.
Photo courtesy of Las Diosas.

After Iota, destroyed roadways have left communities near Guasuyuca isolated. And some newly renovated coffee trees in the community of Los Llanos were destroyed by the storm, not yet having produced their first harvest.

Many women remain without power, unable to charge cell phones to communicate.

Click here to Support LAS DIOSAS

Honduras

We source from one coffee cooperative in Honduras, Cafe Organico Marcala, or COMSA.

COMSA represents some 1,555 small-scale farmers. They live in Marcala, Honduras, which is about 250 miles northwest of Esteli, Nicaragua, and about 140 miles south of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where the country’s Ramon Villeda Morales International airport suffered flooding from both hurricanes.

Landslides have blocked roadways and access to some farms. Flooding has washed away some member farms that were located near rivers, and some high winds have knocked down trees.

In general, though, COMSA has faired well. They’ve reported no significant damage from Hurricane Iota.

Guatemala

Though Guatemala did not get the worst of the hurricanes’ winds, it received extensive amounts of rainfall, which leads to flooding and landslides.

We source coffee from two farmer cooperatives in Guatemala: the Asociacion Chajulense, which is located in the central Guatemalan Highlands, and the APECAFORM cooperative, which is located further west, near the border with Chiapas, Mexico.

Farmers in Chajul faired far worse than APECAFORM farmers. They were already greatly impacted by Hurricane Eta and renewed rainfall from Hurricane Iota worsened situations there.

The Aftermath of Two Hurricanes 2
Flooding in Chajul after Hurricane Eta. Photo Courtesy of Asociacion Chajulense.

Asociacion Chajulense- Quiche

Farmers in the community of Chel, near Chajul, Guatemala, had been isolated after Hurricane Eta. Landslides impaired roads to the high-elevation community and flooding destroyed a local bridge.

Community members had to walk more than 4 hours over wreckage, rock and mud to access a road down the mountain.

Community members had to walk more than 4 hours over wreckage, rock and mud to access a road down the mountain.

Before Iota hit, clean-up efforts had begun, but heavy rains that started on Nov. 17 have continued for nearly a week and have slowed down clean-up efforts.

More than 500 members remain out of contact.

Click here to Support CHAJUL

APECAFORM – San Marcos

Farmers at the APECAFORM cooperative in San Marcos, Guatemala, have not reported any significant impacts from either of the hurricanes, according to Manos Campesinas, the secondary-level cooperative co-owned by APECAFORM farmers that manages the sales and export of APECAFORM’s coffee.

Donate Before mid December

Cooperative Coffees anticipates leaving the GoFundMe sites up through mid-December. Please consider donating to the support efforts.

Learn more about the fundraising efforts here.

November 24, 2020
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BY Café Campesino
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