Las Marias 93
Las Marias 93 is one of the constructive results of the negotiated 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords - ending decades of brutal civil war in El Salvador. As part of the agreed upon agrarian reform, this group of former combatants was able to purchase a piece of land with 7 members founding the coop in 1993. Today, the coops includes 63 members (20 women and 43 men) with an average of 1.75 hectares each. Among the members, 39 are included in the Organic Program, and they represent a total area of about 76 hectares. The remaining members do not use chemicals in their production, but have not yet been organic certified. Their objective is to include all members in the Organic Program.
The co-op land holding came with a central washing station and a simple, but fully equipped dry processing plant at the beginning of the project in the early 1990s. This plant is situated within a larger warehouse near the wet processing plant and patios. Marias 93 offers wet and dry processing service to other groups as well. They have the capacity to process some 30 to 40 containers of coffee a year in their dry processing plant and are offering to dry process parchment beans from other coops.
They also have a collective plant to produce organic compost, newly installed “eco-depulping machines” – which have reduced their water consumption from 124 gallons to 38 gallons per quintal and has reduced their electrical consumption by half, - and a nursery where they grow up to 25,000 coffee trees. The trees were purchased by the National Coffee Council to be distributed to coffee growers across the country as a program to revitalize productivity in El Salvador.
They now have permanent Internet access in their office and set up a cyber café thanks to funds they have earned via a long-standing exchange and delegation hosting program they have established with a college in Washington D.C. The cyber café is run by a youth group organized within the coop, and is working with the local school and receive groups for training all week long. Las Marias 93 is also developing a rural tourism project and attempting to create a living history museum of the region, the Civil War and the 1992 Peace Accords. As part of another community project, Las Marias 93 has also recently opened a local coffee shop and snack counter on the roadside that is gaining popularity.
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