Farm: Comunidad Tres Estrellas
Varietal: Caturra, Typica, Catuai
Processing: Fully Washed and dried in green houses
Altitude: 1500 to 1700 metres above sea level
Owner: Various Smallholder farms
Town / City: Comunidad Tres Estrellas
Communidad 3 Estrellas, Taypiplaya - Bolivia
The Community of Tres Estrellas lies within the high mountainsides of the cantón of Taipiplaya. Located in the Caranavi Province, one of the premier coffee producing regions of Bolivia, the area benefits from rich, volcanic soil and the perfect climatic conditions for growing high-quality coffee. Despite this potential, in recent years coffee production across the region has suffered from lack of attention due to volatile prices and the advance of yield-reducing plagues, such as coffee leaf rust.
The community’s representative, Lucio Barrera, his wife and their four children have lived and produced coffee in Tres Estrellas for many years. Together with the remaining 13 families from the community, Señor Barrera is working to transform coffee production within Tres Estrellas by focusing on increasing yields and improving quality and processing. Their ultimate goal is to improve income from coffee and, thus, families’ livelihoods, by accessing markets for higher quality.
Like many families across the region, the Barrera family also rely on coca production for their livelihood. In the past, in fact, they had been tempted to leave off coffee production entirely and specialise in coca, which, compared to coffee, tends to be easier and less expensive to harvest and brings in a more consistently high price. However, Bolivian law has limited cultivation to one cato (1,600 square meters, or about one-third the size of a football pitch) per family. This has meant that coffee production continues to play a vital role in a family’s ability to support itself across the region – despite challenges posed by fluctuating prices and steadily diminishing yields.
Seeing the potential to improve market access for their coffee, Señor Barrera and Tres Estrellas community members joined the the Taipiplaya Coffee Producers Association (ASOCAFE). ASOCAFE helps them to achieve the very best price for their coffee, which will help them reinvest in their coffee cultivation. The first step in their long-term quality improvement plan is to use increased profits to rennovate their plantations - replacing aging, Typica plants with more resistant varietals. Once rennovation is complete, higher yields and improved quality will generate profits that will be re-invested into the technical imputs they need to further invest in quality improvements. They also plan to improve their coffee processing by establishing drying tables and humidity monitors and by employing a technical advisor to advise on best processing practices.
By gaining higher prices and reinvesting a portion of profits every year back into cultivation, the group aims to achive intensive, high-quality production that will have the potential to overtake the profitablity of coca production in the region – not to mention putting the community on the ‘coffee map’ of Bolivia. The Tres Estrellas community realises that, as small producers, this can only be achieved by working together and with the support of coffee buyers, such as Mercanta, who reward their efforts by bringing their coffee to market.