No 33

Coffee-producing countries call for joining efforts in favor of farmers’ sustainability

July, 2017

What's Happening

Coffee-producing countries call for joining efforts in favor of farmers’ sustainability

• Government officials of coffee-producing countries emphasized the need to work collectively with all actors of the coffee value chain in order to address common challenges.

Medellín, Colombia, July 11, 2017 – Urging the coffee industry to work together towards sustainability of producers, coffee-producing countries joined their voices Tuesday during the inaugural session of the 1st World Coffee Producers Forum.

“None of this makes sense if coffee farming is not a profitable activity for all actors of the chain. This includes, obviously, coffee producers. There is no chain if there is no raw material,” said the host Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. 

Mr. Santos highlighted that, by progressively being concentrated in a smaller number of players, the global coffee market has become more vulnerable, and because of the chain’s interconnectedness, if one actor is in trouble all other actors are affected. 

As noted by Mr. Santos, “coffee growers’ access to markets - particularly smallholder growers - is increasingly disadvantageous. The fact that they are forced to negotiate in unequal conditions should encourage us to have a realistic discussion on how to compensate these asymmetries.”

He stressed that enthusiasm the Forum has awakened confirms the coffee industry’s growing concern about challenges that must be addressed collectively to guarantee the coffee chain’s sustainability. “We face great challenges; addressing them won’t be easy. But if we work together, coffee will continue to be a driver of development and equity in our societies.”

Carlos Alberto Cardona, president of the Steering Committee of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) noted that this institution is at the service of other producing countries to address common challenges. “We can’t build our future without supporting others,” he stated.

As proof of the many similarities that exist among coffee-producing countries, Costa Rica’s President, Luis Guillermo Solís, noted that coffee has been the driving force behind rural development in his country as a “silent and fair land reform.”

He urged attendees and society at large to understand the importance of guaranteeing sustainability of the entire chain, starting by wellbeing of producers. “Let’s distribute wealth, not poverty.”

“The world’s 25 million coffee-producing families are demanding governments and markets to pay more attention to their needs. We are not asking for subsidies or charity, we are asking for support. The sector’s sustainability is a collective responsibility,” he argued.

Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Honduras, encouraged coffee-producing countries to create a common front to protect their interests. Rather than challenging the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the spirit of the initiative is to complement and articulate efforts in order to advance in achieving fair conditions for coffee growers.

Óscar Ortiz, Vice President of El Salvador, acknowledged the magnitude of the 1st World Coffee Producers Forum, noting that it started a conversation around the mechanisms needed by the coffee industry to build sustained and collective efforts.

Mr. Ortiz recognized that coffee has helped mitigate issues including migration and poverty. He talked about El Salvador’s national pact to recover coffee production and stressed the importance of working together to overcome the sustainability challenges faced by producers.

‘ICO already works on sustainability of producers’

José Sette, ICO’s Executive Director, presented the different initiatives that the organization has been reviewing, including a new action plan and more precise statistics, in order to foster sustainability of producers.

He stated that ICO members understand the need to contribute to the coffee chain’s sustainable development, starting with livelihoods of smallholder producers.

Mr. Sette also recognized that many sustainability initiatives have focused on social and environmental pillars, disregarding the economic dimension of sustainability.

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