Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Union Microfinanza

On January 9th we brought 3 members of the COMFEACOMA organic coffee cooperative to visit a relatively new project in La Union, Lempira, in southwest Honduras. The project is called Union Microfinanza, and they offer small loans to coffee farmers, among many other projects. They also purchase coffee in La Union and sell it in Michigan as part of a non-profit. Patrick and Jose Martir, leaders in Union Microfinanza, gave us a tour of their coffee processing facility. They have built a small scale facility to process coffee, but also to serve as a model for the farmers who work with their organization.

While on the visit, I experienced what might be termed "NGO" envy. Check out their website:


Patrick from Union Microfinanza showing us the coffee processing area. Don Chico checking him out.

Their fermentation tanks are tiled to prevent contamination.

When they receive coffee from potential sellers, they insert this tool into the sack and can determine what percentage of high quality coffee is in each sack.

A coffee depulper - heavy duty Columbian make.

Don Chico and his grandson Federico. Don Chico likes this coffee drying shed, but he rightly told me that it is not as nice as his.

One thing that Union Microfinanza has done well is to make two "bunks" in their coffee drying shed.

Adalid inspecting the coffee depulper plate with Jose Martir of Union Microfinanza

Jose Martir showing us the way they dispose of the "honey water" coming off the fermentation tanks. They have a series of ditches where the solids settle out for use later as fertilizer.

These are shaded concrete bunkers with a perforated PVC pipe down the middle of the base. The coffee pulp is piled here and they speed the decomposition by either added composting worms or microbial compost starter.

Worm compost with worms

Compost starter.

Notice the roof on the left. The gutters take water from the roof and run it down into a tank covered by the blue tarp. They then us a pump to pump the water up to a tank on the hill above the station for use in the depulping process. 

Jose Martir, showing us the sand filtration tank that he designed for their water.

On the way home, we passed these coffee pickers and their vast quantity of coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Andy! Thanks for posting the pictures with detailed captions, it felt like I was there! I'm experiencing what might be termed "time with the Entourage in Honduras" envy. Looks like you had the A-team of Co-op members there to maximize the returns on the trip. Great work!