Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beneficio improvements begin ahead of coffee harvest


Unión MicroFinanza has begun improvements on its beneficio in advance of this year’s coffee harvest. These additions will increase the quality of the coffee processed at the beneficio, which will give farmers a higher price for their coffee.

But these changes will not only improve coffee processed here; they will also serve as examples for farmers who process their own coffee, so they may see how to make improvements on their facilities. As with everything that we do at the beneficio, all of the changes are designed to be easily replicable by farmers in the area. We also want to constantly reduce the environmental impact of processing coffee, and many of these changes will help us reduce our environmental impact.

This is an introduction to the improvements we will be making this year, but watch this blog throughout the coming months as we explain each in more detail and provide photos of the construction.

Here’s what we’ll be working on:
·         Receiving tank improvements – We will be moving receiving tanks and redesigning them to make it possible to receive, sort, and move coffee with much less water usage.
·         Mechanisms to sort green and partially pulped cherries – These sorters will help ensure that any coffee that is damaged or not fully developed will be separated from good coffee.
·         A biosand water filter for water to be used in processing – This filter will ensure that all water used for fermenting, washing, and sorting coffee will be of the highest quality.
·         Construction of two additional solar dryers – These solar dryers will help increase the capacity of processing, since drying was our largest bottleneck last year.
solar dryer construction
We're building two more solar dryers so we can
process more coffee at a given time.
·         A roof over the beneficio – It’s no fun processing coffee without a roof over your head when it is 50 degrees and raining. The roof will also help keep direct sunlight or rain from falling on fermenting coffee, thereby increasing quality.
·         Tiles in the fermentation tanks – These tiles will make it easier to keep fermentation tanks cleaner, which will increase quality.
·         New drainage tubes in the fermentation tanks – These drainage tubes will facilitate easier and more complete washing of coffees after the fermentation process.
·         Improvements on the road leading to the beneficio – We want to ensure that any car/horse/person can get into the beneficio, and the road improvements will facilitate this access.
·         An overflow valve for the water tank to prevent flooding – Large amounts of rain previously caused our water storage tank to overflow. This valve will send excess water into our water treatment channels, where it can be recycled for future use.
·         A drainage system in the vermiculture – This will allow us to catch runoff from coffee pulp, which can be recycled as organic pesticide and fertilizer.
·         Paint for the correteo – This will help us keep the correteo sorting mechanism cleaner, and will protect the cement from sun damage.
·         Water treatment and water system improvements – These improvements will help us to effectively treat coffee processing water to avoid environmental contamination.

We are very excited to start receiving this year’s harvest at the beneficio, and we hope that through these coming blog posts, you will learn more about coffee production, the environment, and coffee farmers in Honduras.

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