Mexico – Finding Sustainability

Fair trade, small farmers, cooperatives, ecological farming and sustainability – topics which everyone with any responsibility at Coffee Roasting Company Schreyögg has been focusing on during the last few months not least due to the intensive involvement with fair trade. So what could have been more obvious than to assess the conditions of coffee production personally on site in Mexico?

Mexico is one of the most significant coffee producers of the world: Arabica coffees of consistent high quality are grown in the North American country. Therefore, the first destination of the trip the Schreyögg family undertook in October 2014 was in Chiapas, the southernmost state – the tropical warm and moist weather of which provides ideal conditions for coffee growing. The harvesting season starts in late November and ends in March – at the time of the journey it was the first time that the travellers had the opportunity to see an advanced stage of maturity of the coffee cherries. The San Fernando cooperative is located at 1,230 metres above sea level, in Tierra Colorada, a village with 44 coffee farmers and their families, who grow exclusively organic coffee. It mainly grows in the shade of other trees, and since pesticides are prohibited without exception, looking after the coffee plants properly is of utmost importance. Water supply is difficult in this relatively remote area – every drop of rainwater is collected in large containers to supply the human and animal populations and plants. Since there is neither electricity nor medical care, long-term, reliable partnerships secure the existence of the people in Tierra Colorada.
In the district of Panthelo the Schreyöggs visited another cooperative and its coffee farmers. The mountainous highlands leading into the plantations is marked by a unique scenery, the lower regions are covered by a lush virgin forest with an impressive rich tropical flora. But in the midst of all this beauty the travellers are also confronted with the problem of acute fungal infestation, which is called “La Roya” (coffee rust) here and already destroyed large parts of the coffee harvest years ago. 30 per cent of the plants are affected. With this disease the coffee plant loses its leaves, and the coffee cherries dry out and fall off. To fight it great efforts are required: the fields need intensive care, the affected plants must be tended at the expense of much time and money. Rising prices are inevitable following
crop failure.
The Schreyöggs return from this journey convinced that sustainable coffee farming can be associated with many benefits. The balance of social, ecological and economic aspects creates stability, thereby preparing the industry for the future from an economic perspective as well.

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