"I say that we have to take advantage of the characteristics of the land and the knowledge that has been transmitted to us. In this way we can ensure that the activity continues, and we can continue to evolve and revolutionize on a daily basis and realize that from our activity we can contribute to the world."
Our contribution to the world
A family affair
Ignacio Ceciliano manages, together with his three brothers, the family coffee production and processing business that they inherited from their father. From a very young age Ceciliano worked on the family farm: he says that his first memory, when he was 5 or 6 years old, is of himself using a basket to pick coffee. Initially they were only producers, then his father started the coffee processing project, investing in it not only a lot of resources, but also time and dedication.
Upon the death of their father due to leukemia - among the triggering factors of which, according to his doctors, was the constant exposure to agrochemicals applied in large quantities on the coffee farms - the four siblings faced a dilemma: sell everything and dedicate themselves to another profession or continue with the project started by their father. They decided to continue and strengthen the activity, partly as a way of recognizing and honoring the effort and sacrifice made by their father, but also because of their own passion for coffee growing.
-We love coffee. If we were not fascinated by it, we would not be in the business, because it takes a lot of time and a lot of work. But when you see the results, you see that it is worth it.
The frogs are back
With a clear intention to improve the production and processing processes, not only in technical terms but also in terms of sustainability, the Ceciliano siblings decided to participate in the Coffee NSP project. Rio Conejo's GHG emissions inventory allowed them to identify different actions to be taken to reduce their CO2e emissions.
At the farm level, they renovated the coffee plantations with highly productive and disease-resistant coffee varieties and planted trees to attract birds and pollinators and fix carbon in the soil.
At the processing level, they acquired technologies that allowed for a reduction in water and energy consumption and used the waste by means of composting processes with mountain microorganisms or lime in order to reintegrate the waste into the coffee plantations in the form of organic fertilizer.
-This year we managed to see frogs. There are snakes, birds, insects. To be able to see these types of animals in the zone gives us the clarity that we are on the right path, that the coffee activity can be developed in harmony with the environment.
Sustainability, traceability, quality...
As part of the Coffee NSP framework, Ceciliano was trained in the aspects of promotion and marketing and in 2018 participated in a tour organized by the project to Seattle, United States, where an important specialty coffee expo is held every year. There he came into contact with a potential buyer interested in getting involved in a low-emissions coffee market and willing to pay a better price for it. Thus began a very close commercial relationship that allowed Rio Conejo to improve the quality and traceability of its product based on the specific needs and recommendations of this buyer, who was interested in being able to offer his clients a very specific product.
-Maybe at the beginning you don't know what you have. Having had the opportunity to participate helped us to see and understand what makes my coffee special. It is so important to know more about coffee and to know the added value that not only each product has, but also each person within the value chain. This is the only way that consumers will know that they are not drinking just any coffee, but a product produced by a family with very specific values and principles that are manifested in their enterprise, in that specific coffee.
According to Ceciliano, the educational system, by not offering tools and knowledge to innovate in agriculture, does not motivate young people to work professionally in the field. As a result, many young people choose other careers, fueling an exodus that deprives rural areas of the brightest minds with the potential to become agents of change. But for Ceciliano, who says he is in love with his work, the most important thing is not to keep doing the same thing, but to constantly innovate in the activity.
-I say that we have to take advantage of the characteristics of the land and the knowledge that has been transmitted to us. In this way we can ensure that the activity continues, and we can continue to evolve and revolutionize on a daily basis and realize that from our activity we can contribute to the world.