Heydi and Haris are working in the Soppexcca coffee cooperative, Nicaragua.
Heydi Janeth Espino Mairena was born in the village San Francisco de Los Cedros in Jinotega, Nicaragua in 1993 to two coffee farmers who are members of the Fairtrade certified coffee cooperative, Soppexcca.
As a teenager, Heydi helped out on her parents’ coffee farm during the harvest. On the farm she maintained coffee plants by pruning the branches. During the harvest season she picked the coffee cherries and washed and dried them. Heydi actively took part in the cooperative meetings, held by Soppexcca, representing her parents’ farm and their interests.
Heydi also worked directly for Soppexcca, making estimations about the amounts of coffee that will be harvested that season and also managing pest control at the cooperative.
She has completed many courses, thanks to financing by Soppexcca, including chocolate making techniques; norms and standards; microbiology; cocoa tasting; trade fairs and negotiations; administration and costs calculation; and traceability of food chains. Heydi is also due to study accountancy in her local university later this year.
According to Heydi, the farmers in her village are happy to work with Fairtrade as the extra income has provided Soppexcca with the ability to set up various projects in their community. “Most activities are with young people, training them in areas such as coffee cultivation, and also other crops for diversifying their income activities, education and health”.
Haris Ulises Lopez Picado was born in the village of El Salto in Jinotega, Nicaragua in 1989 to two coffee farmers. Haris’ parents are still active members of the coffee cooperative, Soppexcca, where his brother is also a barista.
After finishing school in El Salto, Haris worked for several years on his parents’ coffee farm. He then got a scholarship from the cooperative to study at university. He studied for five years at the university UNAN León Jinotega to become a secondary school teacher.
Haris was given the opportunity to take part in a pilot rural development project, financed by Soppexcca and the Nicaraguan government. He took courses in natural resource management, coffee cultivation and sustainable agriculture.
Haris believes that Fairtrade has had numerous benefits to him, his family and the community. Thanks to Fairtrade Soppexcca can “pay higher prices for the coffee and offer special programmes for young people, training them in the cultivation of coffee. The cooperative has set up various social projects, including the construction of a school. They have also improved the road from the town to the village and support the community when landslides occur (blocking the street). The cooperative are also running various environmental activities”.