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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
24 februari 2007

50% More income for poor Columbian coffee farmers

The region Narino produces excellent coffee, but civil conflict has had a devastating impact on the continuity of the production and on the income of the farmers. These farmers, often single mothers of indigenous origin, have an average of 1,5 ha of land and employ 5 or 6 family members in harvesting, processing, transporting and sale of the final product. Isolated efforts to uplift their situation never seemed to have a lasting effect. The vulnerability to armed conflict, the remoteness of the area and the absence of simple facilities like water and electricity asked for an integrated approach by many partners. And that is how the provincial government of Narino, the Colombian coffee processor Empresas de Narino, the Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks, the Dutch government, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Carcafe Foundation, and, last but not least, the local coffee farmers joined efforts in a long-term partnership. Starbucks helps the coffee growers to obtain a better coffee quality, farm in a sustainable manner, and finally get higher prices for their product. Starbucks pays a 40-percent premium above the world market price for Narino coffee, and buys the total crop for the next five years. Empresas de Narino spends 1 million euro on technical assistance, and guarantees to buy the coffee through long-term export contracts. The Dutch government, that initiated this public-private partnership, also contributes 1 million euro, while the provincial government of Narino provides the farmers with water and electricity. The IOM offers expertise and installs computers in rural schools in Narino, and the Carcafe Foundation, has been assisting in planting 10,000 native trees for watershed protection. Several Colombian universities are involved to dot research work. The first phase of the program intends to help 1,080 coffee families. All of them have received technical assistence in sustainable coffee growing and diversification of crops. And in a year's time over 70% of the families have received water and electricity. At the same time legislation of their land rights has been taken care of, putting an end to the insecurity that has often been a reason to migrate. Hundreds of small farmers now belong to associations that give them a stronger position in trading and makes the use of middlemen redundant. Apart from the tangible benefits for Narinos coffee growers and their families, the partnership is expected to yield an enhanced willingness within the private sector to get involved in development programmes, as well as to serve as an example to the business world by strengthening corporate citizenship practices. P+ webtip: International Organisation for Migration