Inspiring the next generation of coffee farmers
Cesar Ernesto Buezo has only recently developed a taste for coffee. He spent his whole life surrounded by the cherry plants on his family’s farm, but he hadn’t thought to stop and appreciate the flavor until he took part in Nescafé’s Youth Initiative. “The biggest breakthrough for me was the simple act of noticing the cup of coffee that I was producing,” he says. “Testing it, tasting the different flavors, studying colors and texture… this was all entirely new”.
Currently less than 5% of farmers in agriculture are under the age of 35 worldwide. This means that there is a growing global generational gap in coffee production. Nestlé acknowledged that it was time to set about presenting young people with good reasons to stay on the family farm.
Honduras has one of the world’s youngest populations, with around 65% of Hondurans aged under 29, making it the perfect place to exact change. In June 2019, Nescafé launched a Youth Initiative there. A collaboration with the national government and part of the Nestlé Needs YOUth project, it aims to inspire younger generations to contribute to the success of their coffee-growing communities.
Opportunities for learning
Cesar was studying agroforestry in high school when his class were offered the opportunity to take part in the Youth initiative. “Ever since I was young, I used to dream of who I would become and the goals I might reach,” he explains. “Here in Comayagua I knew that coffee was my future”. He jumped at the opportunity.
Classes are held at the Coffee Quality Competence Center in the municipality of La Libertad. The 80-hour training program is taught in different modules covering coffee knowledge and entrepreneurship over a series of sixth months. There is an on-site plant nursery and a solar drier for hands-on lessons about cultivation and harvesting. A designated preparation area allows students to learn about coffee properties, extraction methods, roasting, grinding and cup tasting.
A holistic approach to farming sees the students schooled in running a modern business. Alongside lessons in husbandry, harvesting and crop care, they learn about engineering techniques, methods for improving coffee quality and computer skills.
“One of our best modules was about motivation and perseverance,” says Cesar. “That really resonated, because we were all balancing the stresses of home and school. We had excellent talks about leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. It was incredible to feel the support of people who did not ask for anything in return.”
A brighter future
The end result is a new generation who feel fully invested in the farmland of their ancestors. “Most of us come from coffee producing families, but the challenge is that we inherit land along with other grandchildren, children and cousins,” says Cesar. "We lack theoretical and practical training when it comes to farm management. We let older people worry about it, and production has declined. Coffee is something that many young people see as obsolete. Thanks to the program, I have a different vision of what I want for my farm.”
This initiative is part of Nestlé’s wider commitment to help 10 million young people worldwide to access economic opportunities by 2030. Plus, the Nescafé Plan has made a commitment to train up to 25,000 young people in Honduras in the next five years as the Youth Initiative scales up and expands its Coffee Quality Competence Centers in the country. The learnings are all being shared among youth training programs in coffee that have already been implemented by the Nescafé Plan in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.
“I think about a future in coffee, but not just in terms of an income,” says Cesar. “It’s a culture, a patrimony, an inheritance, and our family. It will always form a part of me and our community. The difference is, I don’t feel I have to be bound by tradition".
Visit the Nestlé needs YOUth section to learn more about how Nestlé is helping young people take the next step in life.
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