Q. How is the current coffee crop doing?
A. We are expecting the level of output this year to be similar to last year’s, which was not particularly high, for the green coffee we grow in Colombia. This directly affects the level of farmers' income, which is why programmes like Fairtrade are very important because it allows producers to offset the drop in revenues caused by low production. This will in turn ensure a better quality of life for themselves and their families.
Q. How is Fairtrade working?
A. Fairtrade is really important as it helps ensure that small farmers receive a fair price for their product in order to improve their living conditions. Many people don’t realise that an additional social premium is also paid which invests in community schemes to improve education, health, sanitation, housing and productivity. All of this becomes a tool of welfare for farmers and their families.
Q. What has Fairtrade done for the communities?
A. As part of its work, Fairtrade conducts audits to verify that fair prices and premiums have been paid and ensures that the communities receive benefits. The scheme also checks the appropriate investment of resources in line with the philosophy of supporting the development and welfare of communities.
Q. What could be done if we sold more Fairtrade coffee?
A. If more Fairtrade coffee is sold, it generates more resources invested in programmes that improve the quality of life for farmers and their families, including all the aspects mentioned before. It’s a simple equation.
Q. What problems are you facing?
A. Today producers are facing declining revenues due to low production; crop diseases caused by weather conditions (rust); landslides in the coffee farms and destruction of access roads to farms, all of which is generally resulting in the impoverishment of communities. The heavy rains of 2010 and 2011 have stopped, but the weather is unpredictable and extreme. There are abnormal dry seasons and wet seasons that could affect crops. But 2012 so far has been good, particularly during the coffee flowering season, which is the important phase when it comes to having a good crop at the end of the year.
Report from Mateo Correa Pérez
Colombia March 2012
care to comment?