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62. Final thoughts on Food Security Solutions

The Food Security Solutions event has ended, but it is my hope and expectation that its impacts will make themselves felt in coffee communities throughout the Americas for years to come.  Nearly two dozen farmers and partner staff from CRS-supported cooperatives in the CAFE Livelihoods project participated in the event.  If my conversations with them are any indication, the event will have been a very worthy investment.

The CRS contingent at Food Security Solutions.

The four two-day workshops offered at the event — family gardens, mushrooms, organic fertilizer production and beekeeping — are all highly relevant to smallholder coffee farmers and naturally complementary to coffee agroforestry systems.  The facilitators were leaders in their respective fields and, from my perspective, people really rolled up their sleeves and dug into the content (literally, in some cases).

It may take some time to assess the impact of the event.  But I suspect a year from now cooperatives that participated in the event  will have projects in one or more of the areas identified above where they did not before.  Meantime, Sustainable Harvest as the event coordinator and Green Mountain as its primary funder deserve an enormous amount of credit for taking a decisive step to address the vexing issue of hunger in the coffeelands.

1 Comment

  • Thanks, Michael.

    It will certainly take time to assess the impacts of Food Security Solutions, but I am heartened to read about your optimism that the event will spark future initiatives at the cooperative level. Creating a training event focused on food security was a first for Sustainable Harvest, and therefore something of an experiment — to see what impact we can affect by bringing together a network of co-ops, NGOs, and industry partners to share the best ideas out there to help smallholder coffee farmers increase their food production and income using the resources readily available on their farms and in their communities.

    I’ve been excited to hear lots of positive feedback and also some constructive ideas for how we can improve any future events focused on food security. Most of all, though, I was proud to hear farmers and cooperative staff at the event say that they felt bien atendidos, or “well attended to” during the event. This comment from the women and men who participated in Food Security Solutions from all over Central America tells me that the event was tailored to their needs and that they felt comfortable in the environment we created for them to learn and exchange ideas. In keeping with the relationship focus of our work in coffee, I believe these sentiments are the foundation upon which future partnerships for food security initiatives will be built. For Sustainable Harvest, it is the beginning of a more open dialogue with our partner cooperatives that will help us envision what role we can and should play in supporting communities to develop new projects or improve on-going initiatives to decrease hunger in their communities.

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