Hundreds of cutters carefully pick coffee beans in northern Nicaragua, an agricultural country struggling to sustain its fragile economy in the midst of the pandemic, while wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance.
At four a.m., the peasants begin work with their baskets strapped to their waists among the greenish plantations of the La Hammonia de Selva Negra hacienda in Matagalpa’s northern department, a significant coffee growing enclave.
Nicaragua’s primary export is coffee, which generates between $400 and $500 million dollars annually in a country with a GDP of around $12 billion.
To meet production targets, farmers must pick eight cans of beans daily for less than US$6, while their children attend a farm-based school.
Additionally, there is a medical clinic and a free canteen run by women, where rice, beans, corn tortillas, and occasionally special meals such as “indio viejo,” a dough made of corn, vegetables, herbs, and shredded meat, are available.
Permanent agricultural workers have their own huts, but seasonal labourers stay in barracks.
Nicaragua has not ceased to work.
According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), coffee production will decline by 8.1% in 2020, owing primarily to the pandemic.
Nicaragua, the region’s only country that did not impose restrictions on covid, maintained a production of more than 3.4 million quintals of gold in the 2020-2021 coffee cycle, similar to the previous cycle, which left 437 million dollars, according to the Nicaraguan Sustainable Coffee Platform (Nicafés).
Nicaragua, which is also known for producing some of the world’s best coffees, began the 2021-2022 coffee harvest last October, according to sector executives. The harvest will employ more than 300,000 farmers on a temporary basis.