Prem Kumari Gautam is 64 years old, and she has 300 coffee bushes and a family of 7 living at home. Not all of her coffee plants are producing yet, but she earned $160 from harvest at the beginning of this year (a 25% increase on average annual income). This money is spent to purchase medicine, oil, salt, clothing, and her children’s school uniforms. Prem is hoping to more than double that profit next year as more of her bushes mature!
CLN has over 200,000 coffee bushes planted among 297 farmers now. With ~35% of the bushes mature enough to be producing, we are seeing significant coffee production and income generation. (Coffee bushes require 4-6 years to begin producing, so harvests will be increasing every year now.) CLN also installed 13 pulping machines in the coffee-growing villages. Farmers share the machines to remove the outer pulp from fresh-picked coffee cherries. This year 37,000 lbs of coffee cherries were processed and turned into 7,000 lbs of parchment, which was then transported to Kathmandu and sold for over $15,000. The coffee goes on to be processed into ~6,000 lbs of green beans ready for roasting. All of these earnings go back to the 80 CLN farmers who had coffee bushes that were mature enough to produce this year.
2016: 12 farmers and 20,000 coffee bushes planted
2022: 297 farmers and 200,000 coffee bushes planted
84 coffee farmers increased their income by 33% average
Seedling production has also become a good source of income among CLN farmers. Because farms are expanding across the region, many people want to buy coffee seedlings. Some CLN farmers have started nurseries with cuttings from their existing bushes, and they sold close to $3000 of their seedlings this year. This brings coffee revenue to about $18,000 across 84 farmers, so an average of $214 per farmer.** Annual income in these rural areas is ~$600/year, so CLN farmers increased their annual income by an average of 33%–pretty good bonus paycheck!
In February we took a group of lead CLN farmers on an educational exposure visit. These farmers were drawn from different farm areas and each were required to have more than 1000 healthy coffee plants on their personal farm in order to be selected as a representative. We arranged for them to visit a high-quality coffee farm in a different region of Nepal where our farmers learned so much through direct observation and conversation. They had the opportunity to see temperature-controlled drying/storage rooms and how that improves consistency and quality. They were advised by more experienced farmers to rent, not buy, a truck for collection and transport (less maintenance cost and more cost effective overall). They also got to see the application of small volume electric pulping machines and a mechanical demucilager machine in action (a water and labor saving machine that we want to use also). The group met a Japanese coffee buyer, who then visited our project area and is interested in buying our coffee!
Our top priority now is improving quality and consistency. Production is increasing year by year, and starting a centralized processing system is becoming more essential in order to maintain consistency and quality. We’ve been coordinating with the farmer cooperatives to find agreement on a centralized processing location and identify appropriate land with good water supply. In 2023, we are planning to start collective, electric-powered, high-quality processing including a drying area with raised racks, a processing area to remove the outer pulp (with an electric processor), and a storage room for good care until the beans are transported to Kathmandu. Our local farmers just registered the collective processing unit under the name Red Panda Beans because the north part of the district is well-known as habitat for the elusive red panda.
**Note: The average profit varies widely among farmers because each of our farmers have anywhere from 15 to 9,000 bushes planted, at various stages of productive maturity. We calculate the average profit for all our farmers who are selling coffee and we also look at individual situations and earnings to see impact.