The Roya Recovery & Food Sovereignty

Project Description
The Roya fungus has devastated coffee production in Central America, including the Ixil region of Guatemala, where coffee farmers have lost over 75% of their coffee production. Small-scale coffee farmers have had their livelihoods destroyed, which has magnified the deep poverty that already exists there.

The Roya Recovery Project trains coffee farmers in the use of effective microorganisms (EMs) to defend their coffee plants against the devastating fungus. EMs kill La Roya on the leaves, starve La Roya in the soil, and breakdown nutrients in the soil rapidly for plants to absorb quickly for quicker plant nourishment.

The project trains farmers in soil replenishment using organic compost, cover cropping and ash, and trains farmers to effectively prune a percentage of their farms each year, ‘cleansing’ old coffee plants of unneeded branches that use up too much of the plant’s energy.

The project trains farmers in producing ‘live barriers’ – fruit trees, canopies, etc. – that provide shade and protect plants against wind, rain and erosion as well as hard barriers such as rocks to protect organic farms against non organic runoff from other farms.

The Roya Recovery Project grew out of The Food Sovereignty Project, which was established to help families overcome chronic hunger all too prevalent even when production is good. Both projects utilize many of the same organic agricultural practices, and both projects employ the shared learning principles of Campesino a Campesino, which promotes lateral learning from farmer to farmer and empowers farmers in every aspect of their lives.

Through organic practices, the farmers from Asociacion Chajulense will recover their lost coffee production and increase their productivity to significantly improve their income from coffee. The farmers will also learn appropriate, organic practices that will prevent La Roya from returning in the future, and protect against a host of other blights. The farmers learn through the principles of Campesino a Campesino. These shared learning principles, from farmer to farmer, allow farmers to become empowered and inspired in every aspect of their lives.

Inextricably linked to Food Sovereignty, the project teaches women how to establish their own family gardens, use rich organic compost to nourish their soil, care for the hens to provide large quantities of eggs for family consumption and much-needed protein, and also to sell extra egg production for added income. The project also trains families to construct their own in-home, efficient, ventilated stoves. These stoves significantly reduce the billowing black smoke that is caused by unventilated in-home stoves, which causes severe and often fatal respiratory illnesses and stunted brain development amongst children.

Readers can help by
Readers can help by making a contribution to The Coffee Trust and designating it for either the Roya Recovery Project or The Food Sovereignty Project.

Readers can also help by inquiring at The Coffee Trust about obtaining information, materials, posters, and video graphics to be used inside cafes for customers to learn more about La Roya, and Food Sovereignty.

Readers can also host a fundraiser in their own cafe or promote in-store fundraisers to their wholesale clients. The Coffee Trust provides all of the materials. All the cafe has to provide is the space and the time to host the fundraiser. The Coffee Trust provides all the rest.

Project Contact:
Bill Fishbein



Project URL:

Guatemala, Asociacion Chajulense farmers are amongst the most marginalized coffee producers in the world. The association was established in the middle of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war and became a beacon of hope in this dark period of Guatemala’s history. Today, much of its coffee production is sourced directly by specialty, Fair Trade coffee roasters. Even before La Roya struck, the region was deeply impoverished and additionally devastated by the civil war.

Project Impact:
The project involves 500-750 coffee farmers and their families affecting anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 people.

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