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Guatemalan coffee producer Elvia Monzón receives IICA’s ‘Soul of Rurality’ award

Elvia Monzón
Guatemalan coffee farmer and cooperative leader Elvia Monzón, who is part of an organization of 700 female coffee producers, and Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, at the presentation of the “Soul of Rurality” award (picture credits: IICA)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Elvia Monzón, coffee producer and president of the Rancho Viejo Coffee Growers Association (AIDEC) in Guatemala, received the “Soul of Rurality” award at the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2021, bestowed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to noteworthy Leaders of Rurality in the Americas.

With exemplary leadership, Elvia has promoted the inclusion of women in her country’s coffee industry and has inspired other rural women on the international front. She was awarded the distinction in person at IICA’s headquarters in the framework of the important ministerial event in which the Inter-American Board of Agriculture—the highest governing body of IICA—also held its regular meeting.

“I am thankful to IICA for this initiative to recognize the work women do in rural areas. Every day we rise to put bread on the table for our families. I know about coffee from harvesting to cup and I am very proud to be here, to recognize the hard work of small-scale coffee farmers”, expressed Monzón.

Elvia is a member of an organization of 700 female coffee farmers whose objective is to “improve the price of the bean to be sustainable for [their] families”. She took the opportunity to “congratulate all the leaders of the region who are participating and helping to achieve changes in small-scale farming families”.

“As a rural woman, I will continue to fight so that our voices as small-scale coffee producers are heard, so that we are recognized nationally and internationally for the quality of our products and for how we care for our land, which we live off. We are fighting to conserve the soil and to produce organic products; this is the biggest challenge I have in representing this group of women in Guatemala”, she added.

Elvia Monzón, who lives in the town of San Antonio Huista, Guatemala, represented seven other Leaders of Rurality at the awards ceremony, who were also recognized by IICA for “leaving their mark and making a difference in the rural areas of the Americas”.

Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, who presented the award, highlighted the importance of drawing attention to the key role played by farmers, who are an important link in strengthening and transforming food systems given their contributions to sustainable development.

“The Leaders of Rurality initiative is intended to spotlight the issue and recognize the 16.5 million family farmers. Elvia is one of them. It would be impossible to produce food without rural farmers. We have to care for them and recognize their work”, commented Otero.

“Society as a whole often does not realize that when they go to the supermarket and buy a bag of coffee, behind it is a large production chain and a producer, as in the case of Elvia—a leader for her family, operativa, a guardian of its natural resources”, he added.

At the awards ceremony, the ministers and secretaries of agriculture of the Americas were urged to identify other rural leaders to create a robust network to share a clear and convincing message about the value of the region’s farmers.

In addition to Elvia Monzón, the other Leaders of Rurality recognized by IICA in this first stage of the initiative are Alfredo Carrasco, a young Chilean farmer who created the first inclusive greenhouse; and Simone Silotti, a Brazilian farmer and author of the project “Do an Incredible Good” that connects small-scale farmers with organizations working with vulnerable populations.

The list also includes Daniel Bruno, a rural school teacher from the province of Corrientes, Argentina; Gabriela Lucas Deecke an agronomist from Mexico and founder of the Center for Innovation on Small-Scale Sustainable Agriculture (CIASPE); Ramgopaul Roop, a farmer from Trinidad who promotes resilient agriculture focused on proper water management and soil health; Ever Díaz, a coffee farmer from El Salvador; and Phillip “Chip” Councell, an American farmer who promotes innovative initiatives that raise awareness about the importance of agriculture and its ties to food security and environmental protection.

IICA will organize a virtual awards gala with the Leaders of Rurality to officially present them with the award.