El Equimite, Mexico
DefinitionDevising project idea, defining the aim and main components
DesignSpecifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
FinancingSearching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
ImplementationExecution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
MaintenanceOperational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
Scaling UpScaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.
With El Equimite being part of Bios Comunidad Sustentable (Bios Sustainable Community) and one of the first biodynamic farms in Mexico (as of 2020 there is one other) it has great potential to positively develop the Mexican coffee sector. This puts them at the forefront of learning how to apply these regenerative practices to coffee. They are located in Coatepec, Veracruz, with 15 hectares under cultivation for coffee and less than 20 bags a year in production. Every lot is a nano-lot, grown and processed with competition in mind. The mission of this group includes defining, then redefining the upper-end of what’s possible when it comes to quality in Mexico, and to share this knowledge with their network. El Equimite, as a model farm, is one part of a larger network that includes fertilizer, education, a bio-tourism lodge, Montesorri school, an exporter, and a team of cuppers entrenched in parnter cooperatives throughout the country.
Veracruz, the state in which the El Equimite farm is located, has been described as having one of the richest varieties of wildlife in the western hemisphere. Unfortunately, most of the native forest has been destroyed due to logging for commercial timber and land clearing for agriculture and pasture.
El Equimite is a biodynamic agricultural company, focused on the production of specialty coffee, different vegetables, and medicinal plants. Through its integral agroecological production model, the project prevents the area from further deforestation and contributes to the local ecosystem and economy. With reNatures collaboration, the objective is to serve as a demonstration and educational space for regenerative agroforestry.
A large impact that continues to grow
This project is expected to impact over 3,000 farmer families through the producers network of Ensambles that is part of the Bios Communidad Sustentable. Even though Veracruz is a fertile region for agricultural production, farmers are still experiencing the challenges of climate change. Especially for coffee production, temperature fluctuations can reduce production by up to 34% leading to socio-economic challenges for coffee farmers. There is a need for new ways of stabilizing and improving the living standards of farmers while taking environmental sustainability into account.
In the long-term, through integrated sustainability indicators it will be easier to evaluate and monitor the processes of the farm and region and come up with potential solutions. Currently, adaptations are being made to cultivate the best coffee varieties that are resilient to temperature fluctuations. A diversified production system leads to economic resilience creating new market opportunities. From the experience and learnings as well as with the support of reNature, the El Equimite project will upscale regenerative agroforestry practices to other coffee producers of the region.
El Equimite envisions long-term sustainable coffee production contributing to positive impact throughout the entire value chain. Therefore, the main objective is to incorporate socio-economic and environmental actions into their business model and make it a widely adapted sustainable operating model.
The Farm as a Living Organism
The main inspiration of El Equimite is to be able to improve the livelihoods of coffee producers from whom they purchase coffee. Establishing a network through trust and knowledge exchange on how to produce high-quality regenerative coffee with low input and low environmental costs.
For the best support, they work with many allies such as research organizations, universities, governments, and NGOs. El Equimite has organic certification by Sagarpa and NOP (USDA), as well as Demeter (biodynamic). Additionally, they are part of the organization “Bios Comunidad Sustentable”, which promotes education, health, art, bio-construction, agriculture, and other activities contributing to the local community.
Agriculture is one of the most important sources of income for the Mexican population. Because of this large industry the country has been suffering from deforestation for many decades. Today, only 20% of Veracruz’s original ecosystem remains, with 64% transformed by human exploitation. Despite some efforts for conservation, exploitation continues to put pressure on remaining wild areas. To counteract this process the project at El Equimite shows farmers how agricultural production can be done without exploiting nature.
On the farm they work with biodynamic methods, perceiving the farm as a living organism and manage it in a comprehensive, diversified way respecting natural cycles. The coffee is planted under shaded trees, within “mesófilo forests”, contributing to the creation of diversified ecosystems. The diversification of crops will among others improve the soil and demonstrate reduced dependency on individual crops whilst protecting farmers from crop failures.
Benefiting every farmer involved
The urgency to transform the reality of coffee communities as well as the numerous benefits of adopting regenerative agroforestry systems will inspire thousands of (coffee) farmers. For this reason, El Equimite is building a network of coffee producers from different parts of Mexico intending to achieve a better future.
The farmland will function as a Model Farm and a Model School of the region that can be studied and multiplied. Socially the farm is a meeting place where knowledge can be exchanged, and coffee producers are brought closer to a technologically based model for sustainable production validated by scientific research.
At El Equimite the objective is to transform the paradigm of the coffee value chain. Because of the risks and costs involved in this transformation, they are creating equity models for producers, and every actor along the value chain to obtain the right percentage for their activity.
A network of coffee producers and other stakeholders along the value chain is supposed to build strong trust relations and create new opportunities. Furthermore, because of the increased quality of the products producers will be able to sell their products for a higher price nationally and internationally.