Green Beans from Ecuador
Coffee was introduced in Ecuador early in the nineteenth century, and remained one of Ecuador's top export crops through the 1970s. (Today, the top exports are oil, shrimp and bananas.) Ecuador produces Arabica coffee in the western foothills of the Andes south of Guayaquil, and in the hilly areas of coastal Manabí Province. Some Robusta varieties, used for soluble (instant) coffee, are grown in the north. Most Ecuadorian coffee is grown on small farms, from 1 to 10 hectares. About half of the coffee land is planted in coffee alone, while the rest is co-planted with cacao, citrus fruits, bananas, and/ or mangoes.
About half a million people depend on coffee for their livelihood in Ecuador, which is about 1 out of every 8 farmers and their families. An unbearable poverty is the reality for small coffee farmers and has led to the abandonment of many coffee plantations. Many impoverished farmers have migrated to Spain, Italy and the U.S. to search for work and survival. Problems with pests, caused by leaving coffee to rot on the bushes when prices are too low to justify the harvest, plague coffee farmers struggling to hang on.