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Our RENACER School Won SCA's Sustainability Award

Paul Hicks
March 30, 2023
Key Insight

We are so honored and grateful for SCA's recognition of our RENACER Coffee School with its 2023 Sustainable Project Award!

This post provides the background, purpose and results of the RENACER Coffee School since it was launched in early 2019.

Why did we launch RENACER? Coffee farm renovation is an expensive but necessary investment for every farm. The longer a farmer delays renovation, the more expensive it becomes. A cascade of shocks over the past fifteen years caused many farmers in El Salvador (and elsewhere) to postpone coffee farm renovation, creating a crisis: in 2021 El Salvador exported half the coffee it exported in 2012. Now there is an urgent need to renovate farms, but advice for farmers has been confusing and contradictory.

Cost-Effective Farm Renovation: With this backdrop, five years ago CRS convened a group of farmers (large and small) and NGOs  to launch RENACER (rebirth, in Spanish), a coffee training school to train farmers in farm renovation practices that are effective and profitable. Since 2019, the RENACER school has trained hundreds of farmers (large and small) how to turn renovate their farms, generating profits within about three years. The RENACER model includes a few key practices, focused primarily on soil restoration and soil fertility management, plus proper pruning and pest management, post-harvest practices and a focus on quality from seed to bean. RENACER partners also support farmers to connect with a network of millers, exporters, importers and roasters who pay premium prices for high quality coffee producers, creating a virtuous cycle that benefits producers and buyers.

RENACER is a coffee school in western El Salvador that trains farmers and farm managers on cost-effective practices for coffee farm renovation, tree management, harvesting, and post-harvest practices. RENACER students include small-scale farmers and farm managers from cooperatives as well as larger farms.

RENACER and Blue Harvest: RENACER plugs directly into our Blue Harvest partnership to support farmers to market their coffee through various channels, including facilitating direct marketing (roasters to farmers) and an innovative export-service-provider model, where RENACER partners help facilitates contracts between farmers, millers/exporters, and importers to ensure farmers receive an equitable share of the value of coffee. RENACER has a coffee cupping lab, where farmers can have their coffees evaluated by certified cuppers and where farmers can learn to understand how to increase the value of their coffee.

Nearly all technical staff (12 staff) employed by RENACER are young people (younger than 25) and increasingly students that attend RENACER include youth and young professionals.

RENACER is supported primarily by our RAICES program (www.raices.sv), which is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF).

RESULTS in TRAINING: To date RENACER has trained 386 small farmers and 120 farm managers (of cooperatives or large farms). An additional 35 farm managers started the 2023 course in January. Nearly 190 youth have participated in RENACER short-courses in cupping and barismo. Many of these students are working for farms, NGOs, mills, coffee shops, and a few have created their own businesses.

RESULTS on the GROUND: More than 500 hectares of coffee farms have been renovated as a result of technical assistance and training. Average productivity has increased from a low of 5 quintals per manzana to a minimum of 15 QQ/mz.

RESULTS in MARKETING: RENACER farmers have increased average cupping scores from high 70s to low to mid-80s, with micro-lots scoring in the high 80s.

Small-holder farmers affiliated with RENACER affiliated farmers have generated more than $2 million since 2020, significantly increasing farmer income.

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