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Juan Hurtado's farm: a mentoring program case study

Update to Global Coffee Monitoring Program

Aug. 6, 2018

Juan Hurtado's farm is hosting a trial on how improved varieties and agronomic practices affect profitability

Credit: Bram de Hoog

Juan Hurtado is talkative and convivial, with a fondness for discussing what it means to be a coffee farmer and caretaker of the land. Last year, Juan won a national prize for being an outstanding steward of water resources on his coffee farm in the Jinotega region of Nicaragua, where he operates his own small mill. Despite being energetic and resourceful, Juan still faces a question that for many producers is existential: How can I become more profitable?

Together with partners Catholic Relief Services (CRS), ECOM, and Keurig Green Mountain, we are working with Juan to answer this question. Juan’s farm is part of our Global Coffee Monitoring Program, a worldwide network of on-farm trials that will grow to 1,100 sites in 20 countries globally by 2022.


Each on-farm trial has nine treatment areas that contain different combinations of variety and agronomic approaches.

In 2017, technicians from CRS assisted Juan to install the trial, a grid of nine treatment areas combining Juan’s existing main variety plus two improved coffee varieties, and his existing farm management approach with two improved agronomic approaches tailored for his farm. Over the next five years, we will monitor which combination of variety and agronomic approaches return the highest yields, the highest quality, and, most importantly for Juan, the highest profitability. The trial gives him hard data he can use to plan further improvements to his farm, secure loans from local lenders, and share with neighboring farmers.

This sort of evidence-based information about farmers’ best options for new plantings and agronomic innovations is unprecedented in coffee, and is different from typical demonstration plots (which do not have scientific trial design or produce statistical analysis results). The trial will help Juan to remain a profitable, passionate coffee producer and a steward of an essential watershed.


A Global Coffee Monitoring Program trial site. Credit: Bram de Hoog.