Michigan Church Partners with Honduran Coffee Growers

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When parishioners at Mayfair Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., have their coffee after Sunday services, they are providing an economic boost to the farmers who grow the coffee through a unique business partnership.

The Galana Coffee Company was established to develop a source of sustainable income for farmers who grow coffee in the small Honduran village of Canada Galana: in English the name means "beautiful valley." The partnership grew out of a sister-church relationship between Mayfair and a Honduran congregation that has been in place for seven years. Mission teams from the church visit the village annually.

Unlike "fair trade" arrangements in which farmers sell the coffee to an exporter, who then marks up the price to make a profit, Galana Coffee pays the farmers directly at a higher price than they might receive from a fair trade exporter, according to Lisa Buffinga, a Mayfair member who recently visited Canada Galana.

"Last August was the first time we were able to import. We imported about 3,000 pounds of coffee," Buffinga said. The farmers receive about $3 per pound, whereas they might only get about $2 per pound from a fair trade exporter.

Mayfair purchased a solar-powered coffee dryer for the farmers to help improve the quality of the coffee beans; representatives from World Renew have provided assistance on farming practices.

Buffinga hopes that other CRC congregations will consider purchasing their coffee through Galana Coffee. She hopes that at a high enough price, Galana will be able to pay the farmers a fair price as well as provide the opportunity to reinvest in better farming practices. If successful, the partnership could provide a much better life for the villagers, she said.

"Our dream, our hope is that through coffee, maybe this village can climb out of desperate poverty and have a reason for their children to stay in the community," Buffinga said. "We're at the baby stages."

About the Author

Greg Chandler is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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