No 30

Colombian Coffee Growers Take Measures to Face El Niño

February, 2016


Colombian Coffee Growers Take Measures to Face El Niño

A measurement of impact on over 7,000 farms, the delivery of fertilizers for coffee plantations affected by drought and a pay that compensates for the higher content of lower-density beans are some measures adopted to help coffee farmers and their families.

In the current situation of El Niño event that affects Colombia, which has resulted in a reduction of rainfall and increased solar brightness  in different regions of the country, including coffee regions, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) has adopted a series of measures that aim to reduce the impact on coffee farming in general and on the producers’ income in particular, without affecting quality of “Excelso” coffee exports.

To better assess the impact of the current climate event, the FNC, through the Extension Service, conducts a field study with a statistically representative sample of over 7,000 farms throughout Colombia’s coffee departments.

This study, carried out at an appropriate time (harvest formation), addresses issues related to coffee quality at farm level and agronomic state of plantations. It will be conducted again when the first harvesting period of the year’s first half begins.

Support for fertilizers

On the other hand, to support farmers affected by drought with in-kind aid, trying to recover productivity of their coffee plantations and maintaining competitiveness and sustainability of coffee farming, the delivery of fertilizers at the national level began from mid-January and will go until July 31.

This program will benefit over 150,000 coffee farmers in 16 departments, who have seen their coffee plantations affected.

The beneficiaries, selected after a rigorous field study by the Extension Service and the National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé), can claim the fertilizer at authorized points: cooperatives and coffee warehouses of the departmental committees, by presenting their Smart Coffee ID Card together with a valid ID document.

Hernando Duque, the FNC technical executive officer, has reminded coffee growers about the importance of nurturing and recovering their plantations, as profitability of coffee farming is also in their hands.


The beneficiaries of the fertilizer support program are producers registered and active in the Coffee Information System (SICA) to 30 September 2015.

Trade Measures

Given that one of the effects of El Niño on coffee farming is the higher proportion of lower-density beans, the FNC decided to start compensating growers for such beans as of February 15. For this purpose, the FNC will publish the reference price of lower-density beans on a daily basis.

These measures complement others already adopted in 2015, such as authorizing the export of coffee byproducts by clearly differentiated channels (to date the FNC has sold 79,000 bags of this type of coffee, mainly in the domestic market), maintaining the strict controls of quality for “Excelso” coffee for which the Colombian origin has gained its renown and positioning in the industry, or the purchase of dry parchment coffee through a yield factor.

Other Measures

In addition, the FNC will lead meetings with the Colombian government and municipal and departmental authorities to encourage the restructuring of loans in the most affected regions and the implementation of fertilizer support programs, such as the competitiveness program that had very good results in the past.

The FNC will call on the private sector, including exporters and the domestic industry, to participate in the construction of joint solutions to improve profitability of coffee growers.

Agro-Climatic Platform, a Great Support

The Coffee Agro-Climatic Platform, developed by Cenicafé (the FNC’s research and development arm), enables to know, in nearly real time, climatic variables monitored by automatic weather stations distributed in Colombia’s coffee regions, besides providing historical and statistical information from the network of conventional stations.

It is a basic tool of support for farmers, extensionists and researchers in decision-making related to management of coffee crops based on each region’s meteorological and geographical conditions.

In the current situation of the El Niño, this platform, through monthly publication of agro-meteorological bulletins, has been of great help to monitor its impacts on Colombian coffee farming, and for coffee growers in particular to follow some recommendations to face it.

Bulletin No. 5 of January 2016, for example, explains how El Niño has impacted the national territory, including coffee areas, with important water deficits especially in the Pacific and Andean regions.

“Coffee regions will face a dry season more pronounced than normal. (…) For January, it is highly probable that very deficient rainfall occurs in wide coffee regions. In the Caribbean and Andean regions, a condition of water deficit especially prevails in the departments of Norte de Santander, Cundinamarca, southern Antioquia, Tolima, Huila, Valle’s mountains, Cauca and Nariño,” the bulletin reads. In addition, it gives some specific recommendations on coffee planting (it is recommended to postpone it) or developing coffee plantations, such as conserving moisture in the ground through weeds.

The good performance of the Colombian coffee harvest so far this year, despite the intense El Niño event, is largely due to the efforts by the FNC, technical assistance provided by the Extension Service and scientific research and technological development by Cenicafé, to increase productivity of Colombian coffee farming through development of varieties better adapted to climate variability, and the renovation, carried out by producers themselves, of coffee plantations with these varieties, as well as good agricultural practices, including shade trees and weed management to retain moisture in the soil.

Keeping the members of the 100% Program aware of the evolution of El Niño’s impacts, with relevant and first-hand information, is part of the transparency and commitment that have always characterized Café de Colombia as a reliable supplier in the industry.


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