The primary source of income in La Ladrillera is the production of coffee. The local coffee cooperative, called ECA, helps manage the sale of coffee for the village. Most families own approximately two acres of land and families harvest their own coffee beans.
A coffee plant has a life of about 20 years. A new plant starts producing coffee beans in the second or third year. That plant is at its peak production from years 4-15, and then starts decreasing in production in years 16-20. The coffee plants on the farms in La Ladrillera were established well over 20 years ago and no new plants have ever been replaced. This has led to very low productivity and increased costs of fertilizers to maintain the current production levels.
A typical family currently harvests approximately 6,000 pounds of coffee per year, earning that family a monthly salary of around $94.
In cooperation with the village leaders and the local coffee association, FLF designed a program to replace 25% of the current coffee plants in an effort to increase production and income of the village families.
The program provides the needed investment to replace the over-aged plants (a total of 31,500 plants) and supplies fertilizer for a three-year period. This ensures robust growth of the coffee plants.
The expected results will increase the total yearly production volume from 6,000 pounds per year to 10,500 pounds per year. This represents a 75% increase in coffee production and an 75% increase to a family's income.
Here is how it works:
FLF lends each family up to $2500. This amount will replace and fertilize 25% of their 20-year-old plants.
Coffee production of these new plants starts in year two. Upon maturity, the new plants produce 4 times more beans in year three.
In years four to six, the family pays back the loan with no interest. The payments go into a fund for future investments in the coffee program.
FLF encourages families after year 6 to repeat the process using their increased income. By doing so, they continue to replace their older plants in a sustainable fashion.
A family that follows this program can quadruple their income within 3 - 4 years. We currently have 31 families in the village participating in the coffee program and a large waiting list.