SICOBI’s families determined long ago that although coffee is an important crop in their territory, it is just one piece in their ecological mosaic (and business plan).
Coffee farmers across origin countries search for and develop innovative business, production and management models as they seek out profitable and sustainable livelihood strategies. These interesting and diverse “solutions in process” enjoy varying degrees of success. Sistema Comunitario para el Resguardo y Manejo de la Biodiversidad (SICOBI), whose model is a blend of territorial management, communal decision-making and income diversification, is one of those innovative solutions. The first posts of this series on profitability (see: 1, 2, 3, 4) in the Mesoamerican Coffeelands has focused on migration, climate pressures, debt and low prices — mostly the challenges coffee farmers are facing and the accompanying struggle to be profitable. The following posts will focus on innovations and solutions at origin.
SICOBI’s smallholder farmers are laid out across twelve ecosystems, from the highest reaches of the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca down to the pristine shores of the bahias of Huatulco. SICOBI is a confederation of six agricultural communities which banded together, with the support of the local NGO GAIA, to improve their territorial management; coffee is one piece of the puzzle. The families that make up SICOBI have implemented a communal land and biodiversity management strategy of which Elinor Ostrom would be proud. In fact, she influenced and mentored some of the leaders of GAIA.