In the five years since its implementation, the initiative directly benefitted 7,344 farmers, who increased and improved their climate resilience capacities and boosted their production output.
|The regional closing event of PROCAGICA saw the participation of Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA; François Roudié, EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to El Salvador and SICA; Harold Gamboa, Coordinator of the program’s Regional Executing Unit, as well as a number of representatives and technical staff of the institutions that provided support for the initiative’s activities.|
|San Jose, 2 December 2021 (IICA). Direct support was provided to 7,334 farmers—34% women and 10% men—belonging to 199 organizations; the production income of coffee farmers was boosted by at least 24%.; and sustainable production models were applied on 10,402 hectares of coffee. These are just some of the achievements stemming from the implementation of the Central American Program for Integrated Management of Coffee Leaf Rust (PROCAGICA) in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.The results of the five-year initiative—funded by the European Union (EU) and executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)—were presented at a regional closing event.PROCAGICA aimed to strengthen the resilience of small- and medium-scale coffee farmers to climate change and variability, and to its environmental impact, through the adoption of adaptation and mitigation measures and reduced irrigation. It also sought to increase the profitability of the coffee growing industry and the livelihood of producing families in the region.To this end, it successfully promoted crop diversification to bolster food security; enhanced national early warning systems; conducted scientific research to improve varieties and coffee plant resilience; undertook capacity building for famers and technical extension officers; and developed strategies and policies proposals to bolster the sector.Harold Gamboa, Coordinator of PROCAGICA’s Regional Executing Unit, explained that, in undertaking crop diversification on 4,138 hectares of coffee plantation, the program vastly surpassed its 1,000-hectare goal, managing different crops, such as fruits, in association with already existing ones and introducing new crops, thus giving producing families an additional income stream.Gamboa confirmed that, “Almost 6,400 of the beneficiary farmers reported new sources of income; per hectare coffee production on the farms of the target group of the small- and medium-scale producing families increased between 28% and 42%; and 99% of the program’s farmers effectively managed to control their coffee leaf rust, thereby reducing economic losses”, said Gamboa.|
Moreover, the program trained the coffee farmers in managing an easy access credit mechanism, which is a fund valuing approximately USD 2,500,000, more than USD 600,000 of which was recovered by several of the 150 participating producer organizations and that can now be reinvested in the farms. In total, 1,500 easy access loans were awarded.François Roudié, EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to El Salvador and the Central American Integration System (SICA), maintained that, “We are confident that the coffee sector and our actions have enhanced food security, biodiversity, the fight against poverty and climate change, and also strengthened fair trade, which is an element that we would like to develop further. I would like to congratulate the participating producers; they took the decision to assume the risks and to make changes to improve production. They are the true heroes of PROCAGICA”.“We have assisted a sector that is critical to this region’s economic and social fabric”, he said. “We have demonstrated that working together we can fight poverty and food insecurity, strengthen communities and unite regions, which is something that we can apply to other challenges in the future”. Strengthening of early warning systems Another of PROCAGIC’s outstanding achievements was the strengthening of national early warning systems for issues that could affect coffee farming, such as coffee leaf rust.Under the leadership of the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD), the Regional Early Warning System for coffee leaf rust and threats to subsistence production systems was established, as was the Pergamino system, which offers seven risk management tools and generates alerts and forecasts that can also be personalized for farmers.Progress in the field of research and public policy proposals Moreover, in collaboration with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) and the Regional Cooperative Program for Technological Development and Modernization of Coffee Production (PROMECAFE), PROCAGICA fostered regional collaboration, with the establishment of a regional platform operating in seven countries and a network of 224 demonstration plots on the farms of producers in five countries, for educational and training purposes.Gamboa stressed that, “One thousand four hundred and twenty-three extension officers were trained in the technologies promoted by the program”; while, at the level of research, the initiative focused on practices to reduce the farms’ vulnerabilities, such as enhanced shade management, the development of improved varieties, soil conservation practices, nutrition, water harvesting and irrigation.The program was also heavily involved in the formulation of several regional plans and strategies to rehabilitate production and to reposition the sector among national priorities, in the context of regional climate change policies, rural territorial development, food security and sustainable agricultural development, among other aspects, in coordination with the Secretariat of the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC).It provided support in the preparation of the Regional Strategic Plan for Coffee Farming in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean (MESOCAFÉ Plan) and eleven other strategies; and it developed seven public policy proposals to strengthen the coffee sector in the SICA region.Total investment for PROCAGICA amounted to 16,045,000 euros (USD 17,963,089).
Speaking at the event, IICA Director General, Manuel Otero, remarked that, “This is a project that adopted a bottom up approach; that was able to reach producers; and that navigated the pandemic crisis; and yet, its benefits are well-known. That was no small feat. I think that the best is yet to come, understanding that we must continue to assist the Central American region, which still lags far behind. However, a great future lies ahead.“The resources of the contributors—the EU and the participating institutions—were well invested. There is an evident improvement in the standard of living of the producers in this chain, which is critical to the future of Central America”, he concluded.