The Los Campesinos Coffee Project was developed by Sajonia Estate after they recognised a need for supporting the Nicaraguan smallholder farming community. After many years of working alongside coffee growers they saw a necessity to promote and support sustainable coffee production while empowering smallholder producers, or campesinos, by providing a direct route to external markets.
Instigated in 2018, a product of alliance between small producers located around areas of National Reserves, Sajonia Estate, the Nitlapan UCA Research and Development Institute and the Local Development Fund (FDL), the Los Campesinos Coffee Project is an initiative that engages with smallholder farmers, providing assistance, training and support in farming and processing of high quality coffees, whilst assisting in pre-financing and export avenues.
The primary focus of the Los Campesinos Coffee Project is to find and maintain direct markets for smallholder producers, creating a fair, quality-driven payment system that directly benefits farmers and their families, while providing support for sustainable production. By engaging with coffee growers at one end of the supply chain and seeking out socially minded coffee roasters and buyers at the other. Sajonia and Kijani are, therefore, situated to turn relationships and collaboration into real impact in Nicaragua’s coffee growing communities.
Currently there are between 350-400 smallholders involved in the project. These producers deliver coffee to collection points in La Dalia, El Cua, San Rafael den Norte, San Sebastián de Yalí, Pueblo Nuevo, Wiwili and Plan de Grama in the Jinotega and Matagalpa departments of Nicaragua. The Los Campesinos producers are all located within areas of protected natural reserves, which are home to unique microclimates and a vast diversity of fauna and flora. The farmers involved in the project are involved in protecting and improving their production systems and ecosystem and are encouraged to implement good agricultural practices on their farms. Learning how to care for the soil, recycle and protect biodiversity in the surrounding area helps to sustain the future of their coffee and their land. The plantations involved in the Los Campesinos project function as buffer zones for the reserves and, by bringing sustainability to farmers, the initiative contributes to the reversal of reserve area loss, helping instead to sustain and grow biodiversity.
Another important function of Los Campesinos is collaboration. By improving relationships amongst and between coffee producers throughout Nicaragua’s Natural Reserves, the project creates strength and resilience through knowledge and engagement. Coffee producers are encourage to seek collaboration with neighbouring farms, working together on community projects and problems.
Partners of the project include Nitlapan UCA, who provides technical-business assistance to small farmers for sustainable management and FDL, a local development fund that grants credit to the farmer in order to ensure the agricultural activities and investments of the farm. Due to Nicaragua’s political situation banks have not been as forthcoming recently with available credit which has created a barrier for investment on small coffee farms, so Nitlapan UCA and FDL both provide key functions in building long-term resilience for these smallholders. Sajonia Estate supports the project by engaging in effective marketing of coffee and building brands around regional profiles and producers, whilst providing good prices and advice on quality management in harvesting and wet mill processing.
Collectively this project is set to create sustainability and security to smallholder farmers within Nicaragua’s essential natural reserves and each actor and organisation involved has a crucial role in lifting the environmental and community wellbeing in Jinotega and Matagalpa.