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Sustainable Development

The Las Lajas agricultural cooperative near Sonsonate, El Salvador produces coffee and dairy products. It provides employment for 3,000 people in three villages.  Enviro-Stewards is helping the cooperative to design and implement sustainable development practices.  

Environmentally Sustainable Development:

  • Feeding pulp and husks from the coffee fruit to the dairy cows to reduce wastewater loads and increase milk production,
  • Composting cow manure and wastewater treatment solids to generate soil for the coffee plants,
  • Use of shade trees increase coffee quality, provide secondary crops, and reduce pesticide usage (due to bird habitats), and
  • Reuse of pretreated wastewater to irrigate crops.

Socially Sustainable Development:

Following the Mission of Mercy, the co-operative established a humanitarian organization called Masada. This organization served as the delivery agent and provided resources for the Mission of Hope 2002.  Other social initiatives under development include:

  • Providing good wages,
  • Providing community resources (agricultural fields, tools, libraries),
  • Equipping schools with computers and staffing medical clinics,
  • A preschool nutritional program and a youth soccer league,
  • Loans to start home businesses, and
  • Safe and clean water, air and soil.

 Economically Sustainable Development:

The above-described environmental and social measures must be economically sustainable.  The world price of coffee has decreased from over $2.6US/lb in June 1997 to less than $0.45US/lb today (due to a surplus of factory farmed (non-shaded) coffee).  This price is lower than the production cost of shade grown coffee.

In order to be economically sustainable, the co-op will need to market a higher priced coffee based on superior quality (arabica beans, wet processed, shade grown, less pesticides & fertilizer), their environmental sustainable production practices, and their allocation of a portion of sales to social sustainability initiatives.

They will also need to diversify their agricultural products and develop markets for other products such as their carved furniture (see right).