No 30

Nobel Peace Prize Highlights Café de Colombia’s Contributions, no only in Environmental Matters

October, 2013

WHAT'S BEHIND

Nobel Peace Prize Highlights Café de Colombia’s Contributions, no only in Environmental Matters

After visiting a farm and hearing extensionists and Cenicafé researchers, the climate change expert Rajendra Pachauri seemed pleasantly surprised by the work of Colombian coffee institutions.

Insiders and outsiders have recognized some of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation’s (FNC) main contributions to coffee growing in the country, what includes research and development, transference of technology through an Extension Service very close to coffee growers and social, economic and environmental sustainability initiatives.

But the fact that these contributions are highlighted by Doctor Rajendra Pachauri, who in 2007 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the name of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is especially meaningful not only for the coffee guild, but for Colombia.

After attending a climate change forum in Bogotá, Pachauri had the opportunity to visit a coffee farm and the National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé) facilities. And this immersion into the coffee world in Colombia left him impressed in many ways.

The expert was informed on relevant aspects of climate change and its impacts on coffee growing, such as El Niño and La Niña phenomena, the consequent changes in rainfall and drought patterns, their impact on the coffee tree and production, on development of plagues and diseases, and how the guild works to face these challenges.

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“All this is very important. If you are going to get a change in the rainfall regime in the future, then you have to anticipate that and start using water in a very different way. The very fact that you are looking at it, treating it as an area of priority, is a big step forward,” he recognized.

At the Cenicafé facilities, Pachauri met the productive re-conversion strategy led by the Federation (which has allowed renewing more than half the coffee park with rust-resistant varieties and more resistant ones to climate variability) so that producers are less vulnerable in the face of the anticipated environment changes.

He also was updated on researches around uses of coffee waste and co-products, such as the skin, the mucilage and the wood itself, to produce alternative fuels. He met some of Cenicafé’s main environmental milestones, including calculation of the carbon footprint for the whole coffee cycle.

Pachauri also got acquainted with development of regional varieties, researches on the coffee tree genetics, initiatives on biodiversity and responsible handling of water and energy resources, the Federation’s climatic stations network – the second largest in the country – and spreading and information materials, such as bio-letters and technical advances.

 

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“The unique feature that you have is your close connection with realities on the ground. You are not only getting detailed information (through the Coffee Growing Information System, Sica), but also providing all the extension services. It’s a very practical program. Science is really being put for the benefit of farmers and society. What I find very impressive is the emphasis on extension,” the Nobel highlighted.

Importance of coffee for peace

As a Nobel Peace laureate, Pachauri acknowledged the importance that coffee has had for peace in many regions of the country, as it brings welfare to many farmers and therefore reduces disparities in living standards that normally exist between cities and rural areas.

“Coffee is grown over an extensive area and betters the life of a large number of people. The bulk of that revenue goes to the benefit of farmers, and then clearly you are creating conditions by which peace can be promoted. You are reducing disparities in common wealth, an essential input for ensuring peace,” he noted.


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