A Proud Country
Exporters Keeping the Faith
CISA Exportadora was founded in 1952 and for the past 50 years has maintained the family tradition of buying quality green coffees directly from the Nicaraguan producers. As the company states, “Our mission is, by helping the coffee producer, to consistently deliver a superior product to our clients throughout the year.” One way they ensure consistence is to provide the grower with technical assistance and financing. In addition, they process and prepare all of their coffees at their beneficios. CISA Exportadora has purchasing agencies in all the coffee regions and they sell around 230,000 bags annually. Carrying on the family tradition, Dania Alvarez is the managing director. Not only does CISA provide employment for many Nicaraguans, they are also actively involved in improving conditions for the locals. They sponsor local sports teams and build shelters for bus stops. In addition, they assist in Operation Smile, which provides reconstructive surgery for children born with cleft palates.
Another exporter interested in maintaining the Nicaraguan coffee industry is Orocafe. Orocafe has been in the exporting business for over 20 years. Originally based in Barcelona, Spain, Orocafe started operations in Nicaragua in 1991. Their Nicaraguan headquarters are located in the primary coffee growing region of Matagalpa. According to Cesar Marenco, manager of Orocafe’s Nicaragua office, “Orocafe is not a coffee exporter of big amounts, we prefer a personal relationship between the farmers and the company. The last crop we exported exported was 50,000 bags of 69 kg.” Their major brands include “Shg Alto Matagalpa good screen”, “Maragogype Gran Matagalpa”,” Peaberry Star shg” and “Sara unwashed.” They only have three operations in Central America, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras. Marenco says, “We consider that Nicaragua is a country of opportunities.”
Progress in Small Steps
Though the outlook seems bleak for the Nicaraguan coffee industry. There is optimism amongst the producers and the exporters. The new administration is working to bring some financial relief including short term refinancing of loans at reduced interest rates. This is only a temporary solution until a more sound, long term plan is implemented without the pressure of a starving populous. They plan to diversify crops by concentrating on high altitude quality coffees and replanting other crops on failing coffee farms. This solution may mean the loss of some varietals, but will help the country flourish. In addition, producers will be able to focus their attention on sustainable quality. The government may encourage smaller producers to organize into cooperatives. Funds will be made available for participation in international events - such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 14th Annual Conference in Anaheim, California - so that producers can establish relationships in the specialty coffee market. The players in the Nicaraguan coffee industry are very supportive of each other. They are also organizing the Encuentro Cafetalero Ramacafe 2002, which has coffee growers and agronomists discussing reduction of costs, new products, and new ways to become more efficient.
One of the most exciting developments is the establishment of the first annual Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence organized by The Specialty Coffee Association of Nicaragua (SCAN), George Howell and Susie Spindler. Modeled after the annual internet auctions that take place in Guatemala and Brazil, the Nicaraguans are bringing their coffees to a world stage. An international jury will cup different types to identify Nicaragua’s finest coffees. Hopefully, this will help establish benchmark prices for Nicaragua’s quality coffees.
Tea & Coffee - March/April 2002
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