San Rafael, is a very small village with around 100 families, coffee (70%) and livestock (30%) are the main sources of income. Before Aprocetu established their micro-mill a lot of people from San Rafeal migrated to urban areas or even abroad (USA) in search for employment. San Rafael was converting into a ghost village.
The micro-mill has generated work, in the area at the mill but also farm management practices have improved and the producers need workers that help them manage their farms.
Producers received training in good agricultural practices. APROCETU assist members in choosing the right fertilizer and is actively working on measuring and reducing their Carbon footprint.
Before the micro-mill the producers sold ‘cherry’ to local buyers, with the mill they have gained control over the process from cherry to green exportable bean, which has increased their control over quality and the price they receive for their coffee.
Members of APROCETU have invested in their coffee parcels, mainly renovating old parcels with new tissue and planting high quality varieties such as ‘caturra’, but there are small experimental plots with Geisha and Villasarchi.
With the help from others, APROCETU has been able to buy infrastructure needed, such as the wet mill, the mechanical dryers and a truck for the transport of the coffee. The Ministry of Agriculture has supported them in doing soil analysis, on the basis of the results the group buys fertilizers especially developed for the needs of their soils. Applying fertilizer on the basis of soil analysis is key for quality and productivity, but also better for the environment as only the minerals needed are applied, avoiding unnecessary use of fertilizer and reducing costs.
For APROCETU it was important that producer members could understand what they were producing and enjoy their own coffee. So, they bought a coffee roaster. It started small, with producers roasting coffee for home consumption, friends and family. Yet, there coffee got so popular the roaster now runs as a ‘small microenterprise’ providing roasted coffee into the local market.