In 2021, we started a new agriculture initiative with coffee farmers in the Lacco Valley, an ecologically critical and diverse region where the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. The project began with a strict focus on soil fertility and pest and plague management, however the AASD quickly learned that plagues like Coffee Leaf Rust which have devastated production are only part of the problem.
Though the international specialty coffee market has grown exponentially over the last two decades, it became increasingly evident that the farmers saw very little of that economic boom. The remote nature of these communities and lack of organization allowed intermediary coffee buyers to pay farmers well below what their product is worth. Seeing this, the AASD decided to expand the project and support farmers to create collective bargaining power through the establishment of a cooperative. This coop, Origins of the Lacco Valley (Café Orígenes for short), and the AASD now partner to double production and incomes for farmers over just a couple of years.