Second Episode: Chasing The Roya, Closing the Cycle 2013

| November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

roya-2_01From San Pablo, the next stop was Atitlan and no time was to be wasted on tour, so I decided to drive that same night directly to Santiago de Atitlan via the Coast, I arrived at the Posada de Santiago at 1 am, Tuesday, October 22, 2013. The Posada Santiago is located at the shores of Lake Atitlan, coffee is all around and across the lake.

Last February, I visited Finca Chacaya, this time I chose to stop by small properties along the Via Del Cafe, a scenic road that leads to Santiago. I also took the route across the lake by Stand Up Paddle board to check the small Manzanas de cafe on the opposite shores. I started to chase the Roya by crossing the lake, on the other side, I saw a bit of the same, good and bad, treated properties and some, still untouched by fumigation or any reactive action.

To my surprise, along the paddle tour across the lake, I met with a couple of producers on their way back to town, Santiago. The first was paddling back on his own little handmade stand canoe after having pulverized/fumigated his own property, a nearby neighbor of Finca Chacaya. This short encounter showed that he was taking action into own hands and that he was very positive about the outcome.

roya-2_02Later after seeing the many small properties across the lake, I met with the second lake paddler, an indigenous Guatemalan; he had a totally different view about his situation, owning 3 cuerdas of coffee land. This producer claimed to be un-informed about the Roya and how to treat it, he still expected to harvest some beans. I interviewed him in the short video attached.

Both encounters across the lake expressed the local reality of smallholders, some are reacting and lesser are still unsupported and stagnant to the fungus. Of all places in Guatemala to expect testimonials about the Roya, the middle of Lake Atitlan was the least expected to provide material, what a delightful experience!

roya-2_04About the second smallholder I met and interviewed, I proposed to buy the wooden paddle he made and used and suggested he make more to sell to other passing water surface sports people, we closed the deal at $ 20.00. I have the paddle at home and use it now; it reminds me of the beauty of Atitlan and of its friendly people, century long generations of Stand Up Paddlers.

Still in the Santiago area, Via Del Cafe and towards Antigua which was my route for the next 20 hours, I stopped by hundreds of properties to view the situation, through every mile I drove proactive initiatives could be seen, replanting, pruning, nurseries and spraying were evident.

A smaller count of abandoned or untreated “Cuerdas and Manzanas” were seen but in general, a lot of proactive action has happened since last April – May. Anacafe’s guidance and training is absolutely noticeable in the general scenario, Fedecocaguas’s support to the local Coop members has shown the same positive results I saw in the San Marcos Region, and here the Fumigation troopers have made all the difference!

roya-2_05It was the first time I noticed that private initiative “Exporters”, were also active in supporting independent producers with different sorts of pre finance for the Roya treatment. There are still a lot of smallholders that have to change their attitude but in general, Classic Atitlan is coming back. This year will register a low productivity as well as next year, but Atitlan will be back with surplus crops by 2016.

Some of the planet’s best coffees coming from an immaculate scenario and from such friendly people will continue to exist in our demanding menus.

From Atitlan, I drove towards the Antigua Region; a quick stop at my Q & A lab in Guatemala City is included in the next episode.

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