Coffee growing has become a dominant means of economic activity in the communities surrounding the Cañariaco Project, but the agricultural techniques used for cultivation have historically resulted in low crop yields and bean quality. Due to widespread poverty in the District of Cañaris, Candente Copper's Sustainability Team has initiated a program to improve and increase the production and quality of coffee for up to 400 small farmers in 22 different villages who currently engage in coffee production.
The coffee farmers in Cañaris have in some cases been growing coffee for longer than 15 years, but due to lack of access to market, lack of capacity within grower organizations, lack of information and lack of technology, these coffee farmers were earning very little for each harvest. For example, post-harvest work (fertilizing, pruning and pest control) have not previously been seen as important, and there is a general lack of awareness on how to improve the quality of coffee in a cup. In addition, the farmers do not have organic or fair trade certification, which hinders their earning capacity.
Candente Copper has hired a coffee agronomist and field assistants to travel to villages within the Cañaris region where they hold capacity training events with coffee farmers. Candente Copper has also supported the growers with fertilizers, and transporting their coffee beans to the lab to be cupped, quality judged, and recorded in order to maximize the impact of fertilizer use on the quantity and quality of product.
Candente Copper has recently contracted a local NGO called Progresso Agrario ('Pro-A') to help build entrepreneurial capital within the Cañaris coffee producing community as well as the individual producers. Pro-A have contacts in Eastern Canada and Europe who seek out high quality, responsibly grown coffee, and will work with the farmers to increase their crop's quality and their ability to market themselves to these buyers. Pro-A also specializes in building capacities in management, accounting, leadership, product placement, and marketing online.
Candente Copper's Organic Coffee initiative, combined with the hard work and experience of the Kañaris coffee farmers, will create greater efficiencies and ultimately far greater economic benefits and enhance the lives of a large portion of the families in the communities of Cañaris.