No 24

Towards a Productive, Sustainable and Profitable Coffee Farming

December, 2015

Editorial

Towards a Productive, Sustainable and Profitable Coffee Farming

Since the election of Roberto Vélez as the new Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) CEO, Colombian coffee farmers have resolutely and unanimously bet on improving their profitability, which in turn will contribute to sustainability of the sector as a whole.


Coffee farming is a fundamental economic activity in Colombia and its institutions represent a strategic social capital in the rural areas. This social capital has been built through provision of public goods and services such as the purchase guarantee, the Extension Service’s technical assistance, Cenicafé’s scientific research and technological development and social investment in coffee regions.

In addition, quality, differentiation and added-value strategies, together with promotion and defense of the Colombian origin, have contributed to position Café de Colombia in the global industry and helped producers penetrate markets and climb the value chain.

Although 2015 will close with a historic production of over 13.5 million bags, largely thanks to renovation of coffee plantations, which has translated into higher productivity per hectare, the uncertainty and volatility in international coffee prices and the exchange rate; costs of fertilizers; risks derived from climate variability (palpable in the current effects of El Niño) and deep urban-rural gaps remain a challenge for stability of income of Colombian coffee growers.

So recovering profitability of the coffee business is the central purpose of the strategy proposed to coffee farmers by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) CEO, Roberto Vélez. Preserving the purchase guarantee, continuing to innovate in differentiation and added value, expanding the product portfolio, which includes marketing different bean qualities, are some key initiatives in this regard. In fact some measures already taken, such as the authorization to export coffee by-products through clearly differentiated channels, have already begun to improve farmers’ income.

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Roberto Vélez, FNC CEO.


Opening the coffee farming to other varieties and complementing the income through the planting of corn, beans and timber forests will be vital tools in defending coffee producers’ income.

“We want to recover profitability of coffee growing. The activity is surrounded by uncertainty if international prices drop, if the dollar falls, if fertilizer costs go up. That precarious line between profits and losses is constantly crossed. We will work tirelessly on alternatives that make this business a promising and profitable activity,” explains Vélez, whose proposals have been echoed and were backed in the last 82nd National Congress of Coffee Growers, their highest authority.

By partnering with Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture, the FNC will seek to provide farmers with coverage against weather events through agricultural insurance. Increased production costs will be faced through policies to control the price of fertilizers and construction of community plants that reduce costs of coffee wet post-harvest processing.

To control costs and shortage of labor force, generational replacement and mechanization of harvesting (when and where possible without affecting quality) will be encouraged. In addition, efficient use of fertilizers (through massive implementation of soil analyses), as well as producers’ and farm workers’ access to the social security system will be promoted.

Aware of the crucial role that the coffee sector will play in post-conflict in Colombia, the FNC will prioritize environmental and social development programs that have a strong impact on recovering coffee farming profitability.

In response to the Colombian government’s praising calls for the coffee sector to play an active role in the post-conflict, given its institutions and wide experience in implementation of production projects, technical assistance, management of environmental resources, reconstruction of the social fabric and peacebuilding in the coffee regions, the Colombian coffee farmers have reaffirmed their commitment to put their institutions and proven experience at the service of production development and peace in the Colombian countryside and the country itself.

As part of an institutional modernization process, which will support the strategies of profitability, social development in the post-conflict and environmental sustainability, the FNC will consolidate a monolithic guild around the coffee-growing families. In addition, opportunities will be opened up to strengthen the Departmental Coffee Growers Committees as true managers of development of coffee regions.

All these initiatives have been broadly backed by the Colombian coffee growers, whose unity has been strengthened around the pursuit of improving their profitability.

 

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The 82nd National Congress of Coffee Growers, which took place from December 2 to 4 with new dynamics of participation and discussion, made administrative, production, commercial and financial recommendations that will enable the coffee institutions to move forward in improving producers’ profitability. In commercial matters, one of the recommendations was precisely to take advantage of and promote international initiatives for economic sustainability of coffee growers, like the proposal launched in Sintercafé to reach an agreement with the global industry that takes into account, as a critical aspect, coffee growers’ profitability.

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

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

All this without losing sight of the positioning of Café de Colombia in the global markets as a bean of the highest consistent quality and the FNC as a reliable supplier in the industry.

A sustainable coffee farming in Colombia, the largest producer of mild washed Arabica coffee, will in turn translate into greater long-term sustainability for all stakeholders in the global industry, including customers, strategic partners and friends of the FNC in general.

You are invited to learn more about our coffee family and our products, visiting the COLOMBIAN COFFEE INSIGHTS sections on the top of this page.