No 28

First Year of Roberto Vélez as CEO of the FNC Yields Important Results

August, 2016

Sustainability that Matters

First Year of Roberto Vélez as CEO of the FNC Yields Important Results

One year ago, Roberto Vélez was elected as CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), and during this term, under coffee growers’ own mandate, the institution has made significant progress to improve their profitability as part of the commitment to achieve a 100% economically, socially and environmentally sustainable coffee farming.

After a rigorous election process based on the principles of openness, suitability, transparency, fairness and democracy, Colombian coffee growers unanimously elected Roberto Vélez as their leader on August 12, 2015.

And during his first year of administration and thanks to an intense team work, as he acknowledges, the FNC has obtained significant achievements that are inserted into five major lines of action:

Guild Unity: Spaces for direct dialogue with and participation of coffee growers have been created
One of the major achievements has been strengthening of guild unity. Besides having invigorated the steering bodies since his election as CEO, visiting the different coffee departments and municipalities to explain firsthand the FNC’s work for the benefit of producers has also helped him be perceived as a close leader.

Having visited 16 coffee departments in the country, the CEO has held a direct and participatory dialogue with over 9,000 coffee growers, from whom he has heard proposals and recommendations, since many solutions to challenges of the coffee sector, as Vélez acknowledges, come from farmers themselves.


Innovation: Value propositions to reduce costs and raise revenue of coffee farmers
The liberalized sale of coffee qualities different from export Excelso coffee has substantially widened the FNC’s green coffee portfolio and enabled producers to take advantage of international market prices (previously captive in the domestic market, in addition to enabling the sale of low-density beans left by El Niño event); export of Excelso coffee has also become more flexible (keeping the highest international quality standards) and export of small quantities of coffee, via courier companies, has been allowed, among other measures that have resulted in better income for producers and access to new markets.

The Buencafé freeze-dried coffee factory has sold over 10,000 tons of coffee, of which 1,000 tons are coffee extract exported to Japan, something unprecedented.

To achieve a 100% sustainable Colombian coffee farming (in the economic, social and environmental dimensions) at the FNC’s 100th anniversary in 2027, coffee institutions move at good pace towards a culture of excellence inspired by the coffee-growing vocation itself.

Coffee farming models from other countries have been observed, a financing program has been implemented for easier access to working capital resources, CBB control campaigns have been promoted, coffee business workshops have been held, model farms are to be implemented to help producers increase their productivity and major fertilizer producers have been contacted to seek to reduce their cost, among other measures.

National and international leadership: dialogue with major players of the global coffee industry
The FNC CEO’s participation and proposals in different national e international events such as the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) in the United States or the International Coffee Week (Sintercafe) in Costa Rica, in forums such as the 4th World Coffee Conference, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia , and more recently in an interview with CÑN, to promote a global dialogue among all actors of the coffee chain  to ensure a sustainable and profitable production, starting by farmers, are increasingly echoed.

Vélez has visited seven countries (Brazil, Costa Rica, Spain, Ethiopia, United States, Japan and Mexico), which has helped the FNC and Colombian coffee farming regain their leading voice in the global industry; and at national level, the FNC is fully recognized as the institution that represents the interests of all the country’s coffee growers.

Domestic and international journalists have gotten to know firsthand all the coffee process (from seed to cup), which has also contributed to the highest media coverage for an agricultural guild, with more than 10,000 news items.

Public agenda: Dialogue with our partners has been strengthened
Thanks to the effective and transparent work of the FNC as administrator of the National Coffee Fund (FoNC) in the last 10 years, the Colombian Government renewed its vote of confidence in the institution and signed a new contract to continue managing the FoNC, the main source to finance public goods and services that benefit all coffee producers, such as the Purchase Guaranteed (guaranteed purchase at the best possible basic price near the farms), scientific and technological research, technical assistance by the Extension Service and promotion and marketing of Café de Colombia in different markets, which represent important competitive advantages for Colombian coffee farming.

Now the Colombian Congress knows the reality of coffee growers, and joint work with major players in the public and private sectors has been enhanced.

Organizational transformation: United efforts to improve human capital and welfare of coffee farmers

The FNC’s organizational structure has been strengthened, throwing the Head Office into the regions, launching a project management culture model, reinforcing good corporate governance, strengthening ties among employees, refocusing the National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé) on recovering profitability of the coffee sector and realigning the Extension Service through a new strategy  to improve the coverage of this “army” of yellow t-shirts that provides technical assistance to coffee farmers.

The following video summarizes the accomplishments of this first year for the benefit of Colombian coffee growers, which in turn contributes to sustainability of the coffee industry as a whole.


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