Sweet Coffee: Diversifying livelihoods through coffee production

A beekeeper and coffee producer, Carlos Antonio Calero is the proud owner of “La Uva”, a 6-hectare farm located in the community of La Luna, in the municipality of Muy Muy, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. After dedicating his life to bees, he dreamt of diversifying his livelihoods and thus, thought of coffee as an opportunity to thrive.

When he first ventured into the coffee business, he allocated all 6 hectares of land for coffee production. His first ever harvest yielded a total of 11 green coffee (60kg) bags per hectare, but the following year his total harvest barely added up to 6 coffee (60kg) bags per hectare. He quickly became discouraged, and even questioned coffee production as a sustainable livelihood.

Those doubts disappeared once he became a member of the LIFT program in 2018, hoping to improve the quality and overall productivity of his coffee production. LIFT is a sustainable platform that provides valuable tools, training, and services to coffee farmers and coffee communities. Through training and technical assistance, Carlos acquired a new perspective on coffee production heavily based on applying good agricultural practices that are, not only environmentally sustainable but also proven to stabilize yields and improve quality.

The most recent one-year-long LIFT training is bound to end in the following weeks and, like Carlos, a total of 3,000 producers from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala improved their skills and expertise through this training. The program covered various topics such as shade-grown coffee techniques, coffee tissue management, and wastewater management, in addition to social and business topics, such as financial literacy. Carlos explains that training and technical assistance have made a huge difference on his coffee farm. For instance, he now knows when and how to take care of his coffee plants, which enables him to accurately plan specific activities that are key through the coffee production process.

As of today, he has improved his coffee production's quality and overall yields. Through funding he received from CISA, he reduced his cultivation area from 6 to 2.5 hectares, and he applied block pruning techniques. He is now harvesting 15 coffee (60kg) bags per hectare, for a total production of 76 coffee (60kg) bags per year. Thus, by adjusting his crop management capacity he was able to reduce his cultivation area, while increasing and stabilizing his coffee yields.

As every member of the LIFT program, Carlos Antonio Calero is committed to building a better coffee world. For him, “building a better coffee world is learning how to produce coffee the right way, getting out of the traditional coffee production routine, and to change your mentality. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to see my coffee farm in great condition for the future”.