Sr. Jesus

Farmer Story – Brazil

Sr. Jesus is a coffee farmer living 11km from the small city of Cascalho, in Minas Gerais, Brazil. This province of the country is the main producer of coffee and milk for Brazil, the landscape being marked by mountains and fertile lands. In 2010, Sr. Jesus owned 3 hectares of land here, where he continues to live and work together with his wife and their children. Sr. Jesus dedicated 0.7 hectares of his land to coffee, 3,000 trees were already planted in 2010. In addition to coffee, Sr. Jesus had 2 hectares of native pasture and 0.3 ha of natural forest for permanent protection. Next to this, he keept a small part of his land free to have space to dry his coffee. To offer better living conditions to his family, Sr. Jesus also works on a large coffee farm nearby his property.

Eager to expand his own knowledge, he always accompanied the agricultural engineers during their visits to the farm. The project, which was initiated by International Coffee Partners, made technical guidance accessible for him. Sr. Jesus used to apply fertilizers without previous soil analysis, and lacked control of diseases and pests. He changed his practices and positive outcomes became visible on the small coffee plantation: the crop improved remarkably. The project helped Sr. Jesus to perform soil and leaf analysis which allowed him to use appropriate fertilizer and dosify it much more accurately.

He continues to follow the guidelines for control of pests and diseases of coffee. One of the first steps for Sr. Jesus was to join the Producer Association of the region. This farmer organization was set up with the support of the project; and for Sr. Jesus, it was the first time to join such an association. The region’s coffee trade used to be handled by local brokers. The project staff performed an extensive analysis of the coffee quality, providing farmers with knowledge on their coffee and thereby improving their bargaining power with the broker. Sr. Jesus’ coffee had always been of a good quality (“bebida dura”). Yet, after implementing practices he learned from the project, he was able to reduce the number of defects even further, thanks to applying best practices in coffee drying and separating the high quality beans of those of minor quality. And thanks to the classification of the quality, Sr. Jesus received 2,25% (7 Reais; about 2,97€) more income per bag of coffee. Sr. Jesus’ average production used to be around 28 bags per year, his best yield was 33 bags in 2007. In 2010, he  harvested 52 bags – and even despite this high production, his plants remained in good condition.

Sr. Jesus’ house is modest but well maintained. Until 2010, there was no current water, the family used a water tank. However, the local sanitation company started expanding its pipes to the region where he lives. His family always aimed at growing vegetables, but as water was scarce, they merely planted vegetables in the rainy season. The family’s son left the family to work in one of the bigger cities in the surrounding area, as Sr. Jesus’ land was too small to nourish all family members. Sr. Jesus dream: expanding his grounds so to enable his son to move back to them – and see his grandchildren grow up.

“It’s time for the coffee producers here to plant more coffee – the project gave considerable support to us and demonstrated what can be done,” Sr. Jesus says.

In 2010 his plans were set: he wanted to plant 2,000 new coffee trees, expanding his coffee fields to 1.2 ha. The project staff closely accompanied Sr. Jesus, tracking his costs with the Farmer Field Book. The core idea: reduce his costs, maximize his profits – help for self-help.