Co-op Name: Asociacion Chajulense Va'l Vaq Quyol S.A.
Location: San Gaspar de Chajul, Quiche, Guatemala
Number of producers: 1300
Certified: Organic, Fair Trade
Varietals: Caturra, Catimor, Sarchimor, Bourbon, Tipica
Altitude: 850-1600 meters above sea level
Interesting Fact: For the past couple of years Equal Exchange has supported a very exciting project at Chajulense organized by the Coffee Trust. This project directly supports the growth of field-based promoters and technical assistance teams that focus on increasing productivity, encouraging farm renovation, and expanding the use of beneficient microorganisms to reduce the incidence of disease and encourage nutrient uptake by the coffee plants. Learn more about the Coffee Trust’s work in the Ixil region.
A little bit of history: Asociación Chajulense Va´l Vaq Quyol (in the local Maya Ixil language va’l vaq quyol means “union”) is located in the municipality of San Gaspar Chajul in the Ixil region of western Guatemala. The Chajulense was founded in 1990 with the support of local priests. At its outset, the immediate goal of the association was “to support survival in the midst of war, in a climate of violence and profound mistrust, poverty, and injustice”. The Ixil region was deeply impacted during the Guatemalan civil war and the indigenous maya ixil people were targeted by the military as alleged collaborators of guerrilla fighters. The most intense violence in this area occurred during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. The Chajulense was founded specifically with the goal of helping to support the people and communities deeply impacted by the horrific violence and genocide carried out by the military.
In its first two years, the association focused on basic community needs and built a pharmacy, a granary, and a small store. The Chajulense also worked on supporting the production of corn and the sale of cattle, the recovery and remodeling of an old home that had been taken over by the army to use as an office. It was in 1989 with the help of UCIRI--a Mexican coffee farmer cooperative--that the Chajulense focused in on coffee as an economic opportunity to market and sell through the farmer association.
Beginning in 2010, the leadership at Chajulense doubled down on efforts to enter into the specialty coffee market and focused on highlighting their specialty quality, organic, fair trade, and high altitude coffees. The Chajulense reached their highest export levels in the 2011/2012 harvest cycle but shortly after this, the farmer members began to see the devastation caused by coffee leaf rust. In 2013, the farmer members were only able to produce and export approximately 25% of the total volume that they had exported in 2012 due to the rust crisis.
From 2014 to 2017, the association has been developing support systems for producer members to recover their production through farm renovation with disease resistant varietals. With external support, Chajulense has strengthened their technical assistance team with experts in organic production.
Over the course of three decades of existence, the Chajulense has experienced cycles of growth and decline. The association has been able to directly impact the livelihoods of affiliated members and the more than 3000 families in the San Gaspar Chajul municipality.
You can find Asociación Chajulense's coffee beans in:
- Organic Guatemalan Medium
- Organic Guatemalan Medium