by Peter Buck, Interfaith Program Manager
Las Colinas co-operative, an Equal Exchange trading partner in El Salvador for 15 years, has lost about 15% of its coffee crop and all of its corn and beans to a devastating storm that dumped a year’s worth of rain on Central America over eleven days in October, 2011. The road they use to transport their coffee from the co-op was also washed out by the storm. In response to a request from our farmer partners at Las Colinas, Equal Exchange is collecting emergency funds to replace lost food crops and to help repair roads.
Follow this link to donate to the relief fund.
The farmers of Las Colinas have farmed their land collectively since they bought the hacienda from the former landowner in 1980 as part of a government agrarian reform program. For over 30 years, the 70 farming families have struggled to keep their co-operative together, hampered by exorbitant debt, lack of credit, inadequate education, repeated natural disasters, and unstable world coffee prices.
In all this time, they have worked to improve their farm: gaining organic certification, improving their farming and processing techniques and reducing the amount of water they use in processing. They also protect the water source that originates on their land and supplies the nearby town of Tacuba.
The current high coffee prices have benefited the co-operative in recent years. They produce around 300,000 pounds a year of high quality coffee, which is purchased by Equal Exchange at premium and super-premium prices.
In late 2011, however, they have lost about 15% of their coffee crop and most of their food crops (corn and beans) to disastrous wind and rainstorms that took place from October 11 to the 22nd. At Las Colinas, ripe coffee was knocked from the trees and ruined; crops and whole coffee trees were washed away; and the road they need to transport their coffee was washed out in several places.
Equal Exchange is hoping to raise $28,000 in relief funds: $15,000 for road repair and $13,000 for food relief.
We are raising these funds in collaboration with Week of Compassion, a relief and development ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), an Equal Exchange Interfaith partner. Week of Compassion has donated $5,000 of its own funds and has agreed to establish a Las Colinas Relief Fund to collect the rest of the funds donated. Contributions to this Fund are tax-deductible.
We are inviting all of our customers and readers to help us raise the remainder of our $28,000 goal. Thanks in advance for any and all contributions, as well as your on-going interest in Las Colinas, and the work of Equal Exchange. Follow this link to donate to the relief fund.