Edward Fischer and Bart Victor of Vanderbilt University have recently published an article in the Latin American Research Review on High-End Coffee and Smallholding Growers in Guatemala. Here is the abstract:
Coffee production in Guatemala has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last twenty years. Changing tastes among northern consumers have driven new demand for high-quality Strictly Hard Bean coffees that are grown above 4,500 feet.
As a result, many of the large, lower-altitude plantations long synonymous with coffee in Guatemala have abandoned production, moving into rubber, African palm, and other crops.
At least 50,000 mostly smallholding farmers in the highlands have begun growing coffee to fi ll this market niche. Building on a capabilities approach to development, this article examines how smallholding Guatemalan producers’ desires for a better future orient their engagement with this new market.
Most of these small producers live in very modest circumstances with limited resources and opportunities.
Yet, as they describe it, coffee represents an opportunity in a context of few opportunities, an imperfect means to a marginally better life.
The research was supported by the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies (ICS) and Anacafé. Anacafé provided field assistance and access to their database of producers, from which the researchers independently selected the sample reported on here. Survey questions were developed by the authors with assistance from Carlos Pérez-Brito (then of the World Bank) and a team of graduate students.
You can download the entire article at this link.