- Canal de Panamá inauguró su primera planta procesadora de café robusta - EFE
The Panama Canal inaugurated its first robust coffee processing plant, as part of an environmental program that seeks to conserve its watershed and empower local coffee growers.
The administrator of the water route, Jorge Luis Quijano, explained that until now the farmers of the basin of the Canal had to grind and roast the beans in the city of Santiago (Veraguas), located more than three hours from their farms, and thanks to this plant they will save on costs and time.
"The purpose of all this is for it to be good mainly for them (local coffee growers), but also good for the Canal," said Quijano.
The plant, which will be managed by the Association of Coffee Producers of the Cirí and Trinidad Rivers Sub-basins of the Panama Canal (ACACPA), was inaugurated outside the Panamanian capital, in the area of Las Gaitas, and is part of the Environmental Economic Incentives Program (PIEA) of the aquatic route.
The administrator indicated that the inauguration of the processing plant is the last stage of a project that was born in 2013 with the aim of making this area of the Canal basin more resilient, which presents "great" threats such as deforestation and water deterioration, mainly due to unsustainable agrarian practices and the growth of livestock.
"When we received the Canal (from the United States), this area was very devastated and little by little through reforestation and the work of the communities we have managed to improve the land a bit," he said.
Quijano also recalled that the Cirí Grande and Trinidad rivers are important tributaries of Gatún Lake, which in turn supplies drinking water to several cities and regulates the level of the Panama Canal.
The plant has a toaster, a grinder and a sealer to package the product, since the ultimate goal of the program is for the coffee growers association not only to sell the coffee in bulk to large companies, as it does now, but also marketed under its own brand: "Cuencafé".
The coffee harvested in this area is robust, used to make instant coffee and mixtures and is stronger than the Arabic coffee.
"That Italy is asking about the quality of the Canal basin coffee is an indication that we have a coffee with a lot of potential," said Quijano.
The Panama Canal, which passes close to 6 percent of world trade, links more than 140 maritime routes and 1,700 ports in 160 different countries.