3 February 2015: The coffee leaf rust (la roya) has reached the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico and small-scale coffee farming families are working to quickly respond to the blight before it further impacts their livelihoods. As the Mexican government promotes a host of new agrochemicals, CAN’s partner VIDA A.C. is steadfast in its promotion of agroecological practices to replant coffee fields and is distributing seeds of the Geisha varietal, which is tolerant of leaf rust and also considered to be of excellent quality among coffee buyers. Geisha is hailed by specialty coffee roasters around the world as a vibrant cup with distinct notes of jasmine and bergamot; however, on-farm processing is crucial to achieving its famed profile.

During the last week of January 2015, AgroEco® coffee producers in Veracruz attended a three-day course on the improvement of on-farm coffee processing practices for export standards. Led by Engineer Clemente Santiago Paz—former organic certifier for CertiMex—this workshop highlighted the importance of quality control at every step of the process from picking to fermentation.

Suraya Arlsan, Technology Trainer for this year’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project (YLFS) evaluation, is currently in the region with our partner VIDA, A.C. In addition to attending workshops with coffee producers, she is working to train VIDA, A.C. staff and youth leaders in CAN’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project in the use of portable tablets and Excel in data collection, to improve youth leaders’ capacity to monitor changes in their communities. The group is working to create uniform and accessible definitions for fertilizer and soil conservation practices in order to increase the accuracy and consistency of the data collected this year. In the process, they are increasing their knowledge of methods that could further the health of the soil and in turn, producer families’ livelihoods. The data collected by youth leaders in the annual evaluation will work to identify the strengths of the beneficiary families as well as the areas where CAN and VIDA A.C.can further support them as they face the additional threat of la roya.