Guatemala is the world’s largest producer of cardamom seeds. More than 350,000 families cultivate cardamom, which is the main source of their income. Most are indigenous, from the Q’eqchi, Poqomchí, Quiché ethnic groups.
Producers harvest the green seeds “cereza” and then intermediaries (“coyotes”) bring them to one of the 3500 dehydration ovens distributed throughout the Coban region, where the dried cardamom “pergamino” is produced. Most of the time, other coyotes then commercialize those seeds to exporters or distillers.
This value chain presents many sustainability issues:
– No traceability and dependence to coyotes
– Low agricultural yields
– High deforestation, notably to run the ovens
Farther away from an oven are the families, more dependent they are on coyotes. That is why we decided to implement a dehydration oven in Izabal, a region far away from cardamom center. This way, communities have direct access to a fair market price and an oven to dry their seeds and we have full traceability on the oven’s input.
Comparing agricultural yield from a big producer, to a small producing family, we found a threefold difference. We implemented technical assistance for our producing communities and hope to double their current yield, and consequently their income.
Within our projects, we already reforested more than 60 hectares of parcels of cardamom.
OUR PARTNER ON THE GROUND
We partner with FundaEco, one of the most successful Guatemalan NGO, which is responsible for a huge natural reserve in the Izabal region. We coordinate with them to help growers within their area of influence.