ROCKVILLE, MD, U.S. — US-based coffee roaster Mayorga Organics has partnered with web-based coffee publication Perfect Daily Grind to create the Mayorga Scholarship, which provided 15 Guatemalan producers with free entry to the industry event Producer & Roaster Forum on May 23rd and 24th in Guatemala City, as well as paying for their food and accommodation for the duration of their stay.
The international green (unroasted) coffee price currently sits at less than USD 1.00/lb, which many farmers say is less than it costs to produce coffee. In 2017, when the international coffee price sat at USD 1.55/lb, a two-year Fairtrade and True Price pilot study of 465 Fairtrade smallholder farmers across 7 countries was published, showing that most farmers did not earn a household living wage.
In this context of spiraling green coffee prices and increased financial instability, the Mayorga Scholarship was designed to give coffee farmers both access to and a voice at a leading industry event. The 2019 Producer & Roaster Forum, organized by Perfect Daily Grind, hosted 500 producers and 75 international guests, including roasters from across the globe.
It featured lectures from industry experts, workshops on topics including coffee pricing and gender equity, and the world’s first coffee blockchain auction, in partnership with blockchain service provider Yave and Guatemalan Coffees.
Small-scale coffee producers are often unable to attend industry events due to the expense of tickets, accommodation, and time away from their farms. The Mayorga Scholarship aims to reduce these barriers and provide an opportunity for Guatemalan producers to share knowledge with each other and other industry players.
Martin Mayorga, Founder and President of Mayorga Organics, says, “Though they are the most relevant members of our supply chain in terms of true sustainability, producers have historically been marginalized and taken advantage of by those making the lion’s share of profits. It’s time we treat producers with the respect they deserve and engage with them like the experts they are.”
On his decision to partner with the Producer & Roaster Forum, he adds, “Having been born in Guatemala, I have an intrinsic motivation to add value in-country whenever I can. Moreover, Mayorga Organics was built on the concept of creating direct relationships with producers and this is the first event that I’ve seen take this producer-first approach. I know it’s going to be a tremendous success and I want Mayorga to contribute to that success for the betterment of producers’ lives.”
In order to be eligible for the Mayorga Scholarship, coffee producers had to meet a series of criteria, including maximum harvest size. Henry Wilson, Founder of Perfect Daily Grind, says, “There have been many initiatives to better support coffee producers in meeting roasters and potential buyers, learning from industry experts, and having a voice on the world stage. However, often they elevate those producers who are already the most advantaged.
“What sets the Mayorga Scholarship apart is that it is designed to directly support those who would benefit the most from attending the 2019 Producer & Roaster Forum: the smallholder producers who are normally unable to access industry events and buyers, and who are most vulnerable to fluctuating coffee prices and costs. It is a privilege to partner with Mayorga Organics to offer this opportunity.”
Luisa Fernanda Correa Mancía, General Manager of Guatemala’s national coffee association Anacafé/Guatemalan Coffees, says, “We are immensely grateful to Martin Mayorga for providing this invaluable opportunity and demonstrating, through tangible actions, his interest in the economic sustainability and overall well-being of coffee producers.
“[Two weeks ago], we have seen coffee prices drop to USD 87.05/lb and are deeply concerned for the sector’s sustainability. The Mayorga Scholarship is a window of opportunity for producers to better equip themselves and gain direct access to key industry contacts who will also be participating in the Forum.”