Coffee growers’ meet may bring a cuppa cheer for India

Coffee growers’ meet may bring a cuppa cheer for India

July 10, 2019

Some important topics for discussion include how to replicate Brazil’s success of domestic coffee consumption

The World Coffee Producers’ Forum (WCPF) is scheduled to discuss a range of issues critical to the economic sustainability of coffee farmers round the globe at its two-day conference that commenced on Wednesday.

WCPF is a not-for-profit entity that represents over 25 million coffee-growing families across 60 countries.

Direct impact on growers

Some of the topics scheduled for discussion and that would have direct bearing on over 2.50 lakh coffee farmers in India, include how to replicate Brazil’s success of domestic coffee consumption, how to protect farmers from current market mechanisms that harm their incomes and how to improve transparency and traceability from seed-to-cup to ensure better price premium for their produce. One of the key highlights will be a paper on “Economic and political analysis to improve small coffee growers’ income” presented by Prof. Jeffrey D Sachs, director, Center for Sustainable Development of the Institute de la Tierra of Columbia University. Juan Esteban Orduz, president, Colombian Coffee Growers Federation Inc. told The Hindu that the forum would push for cooperation between all key stakeholders, including the New York Stock Exchange and consumers, to ensure a sustainable income for farmers, add value to coffee in producing countries and also increase consumption in producing countries.

Working on problems

“The current price crisis affects all producing countries alike. Our goals and objectives are to work on main problems such as price and demand creation,” said Mr. Orduz who is also the president of North American subsidiary of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.

As per Vanusia Nogueira, executive director, Brazil Specialty Coffee Association — BSCA, the key objective of WCPF was to focus on actions that would eventually improve the economic condition of all coffee producers around the globe.

Till recently, large coffee fairs and expos were all organised and held in importing/consuming countries and had discussion agendas with topics of interest to these countries; there were no important coffee fairs or gatherings driven by producing countries. At that time, international markets were increasingly interested in environmental and social sustainability, to the point of demanding social and environment sustainability certification for coffees. International markets were less interested in, and unwilling to bear the cost of, or even discuss, the issue of economic sustainability, she said.

“Producers would be required to provide environmentally and socially sustainable coffees at whatever price the market dictated, even if that price was below their own cost of production,” added Mr. Orduz while explaining the context under which a global body for coffee growers was set up in 2017. Since its inception, WCPF has been working closely with the industry. Last September it sent letters signed by representatives from coffee-producing countries and organisations to around 30 CEOs from the main coffee industries,including leading roasters, asking them to be sensitive to growers’ plight.

“Sadly, we received a very cold feedback. Most feedback we received did not even acknowledge the problem. Some even said they are doing enough towards social initiatives, that in our view is something to promote their own marketing or public relations and nothing towards ensuring economic sustainability for farmers,’’ lamented Ms. Nogueira.

“The forum is still young and only 3.5 years old. So far we have delivered a clear, structured message and created an awareness about producers’ economic sustainability. Our objective is to continue to educate the consuming world, the coffee industry, individual consumers and all stakeholders in the ecosystem about farmers’ issues and sacrifices they put in behind every cup of coffee that comes on the table,’’ added Mr. Orduz.

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