No 30

Café de Colombia Works for Coffee Growers’ Profitability

December, 2015

EDITORIAL

Café de Colombia Works for Coffee Growers’ Profitability

Since the election of Roberto Vélez as the new Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) CEO, Colombian coffee growers have decidedly bet on improving their profitability, which in turn will contribute to sustainability of the entire sector.

Some measures taken so far, such as the authorization to export coffee byproducts through clearly differentiated channels, have already begun improving coffee growers’ income.

Colombian coffee growers continue working in several fronts to increase this profitability through innovative measures. During the International Coffee Week (Sintercafé) in Costa Rica, the FNC proposed to reach an economic sustainability agreement with the global industry, which takes into account, as a fundamental piece, coffee farmers’ profitability.

This proposal was well received among participants of the meeting, attended by representatives from other producing countries as well as from the coffee industry in North America, Europe and Asia.

“What we seek with this proposal is to achieve an agreement with the entire industry that translates into price levels that make coffee growing a profitable and economically sustainable activity for coffee growers as it does for the industry,” Velez said on behalf of Colombian coffee growers.

“At current prices of around $1.20 per pound, the only thing we will see is producing countries’ capacity withering. If people abandon their crops, the typical shock will come two or three years later: the industry will see that there is no more coffee and then prices will jump to $4. The proposal is to reach now an agreement between the industry and coffee-producing countries so that a price, for example, of $1.80 or $2 per pound is paid, so that farmers can lead a dignified life and production is sustainable. This is a chain that begins with production and ends in the cup, and if production is over, the rest of the chain will be affected,” he elaborated.

To strengthen this proposal, the FNC will present it within the framework of the World Coffee Conference, to be held by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in March 2016 in Ethiopia and to be attended by countries that account for 94% of global production and over 75% of world coffee consumption.

If this measure is adopted, it would directly benefit over 22 million people who work in coffee production worldwide (2.3 million in Central America, 2.2 in South America, 12.1 million in Africa and 5.5 million in Asia). Countries such as Honduras and Costa Rica have already echoed this proposal, which they see with good eyes.

“With current prices, we can hardly expect coffee growing to survive. We seek that the industry recognizes that coffee growers make great efforts to achieve quality and sustainability. Viability of the entire chain, starting by the farm, is a co-responsibility of all the links,” he concluded.

In Colombia, about 550,000 families are devoted to coffee growing. Although the extensive renovation of coffee plantations has increased overall productivity and increasingly more families are producing specialty coffees, a significant number of families are still being affected by the ups and downs of the international price.

82nd Coffee Growers Congress also prioritizes profitability
The National Congress of Coffee Growers, which every year brings together 90 representatives of the 15 Departmental Coffee Growers Committees, is the highest authority of the FNC.

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During its sessions, the FNC’s management, headed by the CEO, presents annual performance reports. The Congress studies the problems affecting Colombian coffee growing and dictates measures or recommendations to respond suitably and opportunely. The Congress also adopts initiatives aiming to improve performance of coffee grower’s institutions and organization, and approves budgets and management policies.

The last 82nd National Congress of Coffee Growers, which took place from December2 to 4, made administrative, production, commercial and financial recommendations that will enable coffee institutions to move forward in improving profitability of producers, their families and the sector as a whole.

These recommendations enrich and perfect the 2015-20 Strategic Plan approved by the 80th National Congress of Coffee Growers in December 2014, the coffee growers’ roadmap that their institutions, with the renewed momentum of the CEO, will meet for the benefit of producers.

In commercial matters, one of the recommendations by the 82nd Congress was precisely to take advantage and promote global initiatives for sustainability of the sector, like the proposal launched in Sintercafé.

By combining continuity and innovation, recommendations by the highest authority of Colombian coffee growers reinforce many of the programs and initiatives in which the coffee institutions have already been working for a long time, but they also echo the priority measures that the new FNC CEO has been promoting to improve profitability of coffee growers and their families.

In turn, a sustainable coffee farming in Colombia, the largest producer of mild washed Arabica coffee in the world, will result in greater long-term sustainability for all stakeholders in the global industry, including members of the 100% Program.

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