Juan Hurtado's farm: a mentoring program case study
Update to Global Coffee Monitoring Program
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.
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.