Bolivia Sol de la Mañana Washed
Altitude: 1,500 – 1,700 masl
Plant Varietal: Red and Yellow Caturra and Catuaí
Tasting Notes: Yellow Plum, Chocolate
The first of its kind in the country, the Sol de la Manaña program is aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with local producers to create better quality coffees in higher quantities and in doing so help them obtain sustained longterm profitability. The program was established by Agricafe – and was the brainchild of its founder, Pedro Rodriguez and his family. The ultimate aim of the program is to try to ensure that coffee production continues to exist in Bolivia (it has faced a rapid decline in recent years) and ensure that it is, and can continue to be a viable and sustainable crop for producers in the region for many years to come.
The Sol de la Mañana program came about in 2012 after a group of local small producers approached Pedro Rodriguez and asked for help. They were desperate, facing incredibly low and decreasing yields, and barely making ends meet. After months of planning, the Sol de la Mañana program was born. The goal was simple: to help these small producers improve both the quality and even more critically, yield, of their farms. Most of the small farms in the area produced around 2.5 bags per hectare of coffee (this volume was at an all-time low, due to leaf rust, ageing trees, and basic farming practices). Given that most small producers owned 3 -5 hectares of coffee, this meant that they were surviving on the income of as little as 10 bags of coffee per year. To make coffee a sustainable crop for these producers, it was identified that they would need to yield 30 – 35 bags of coffee per hectare. The Sol de la Manana program was set up to try to address this issue, and also help to improve quality to ensure high prices could be paid for their production.
With this in mind, the Rodriguez family set up a curriculum that was designed to tackle this problem head-on, focusing on giving producers the skills and training they need to increase the quantity and improve the quality of their output. They developed a curriculum focusing on one aspect of farming at a time, and covering things such as how to build a nursery, how and when to use fertiliser, how to prune, has how to selectively pick coffee. They also hosted workshops with leading agronomists throughout the year.
The results of this program have been profound, with demonstrated improvements in quality and quantities for all participating producers. The results have been amazing – the quality has been greatly improved, and yield has drastically improved to 30 bags/hectare.
In addition, the producers have become more confident and proactive and engaged as a community and are sharing their learnings and experiences with each other and their wider communities. Currently, there are 60 producers enrolled in the program and the aim is to have 100, representing roughly 200 hectares of pristine coffee farms. From there, the hope is that there will be a network effect as knowledge is shared between neighbours and their extended communities.