In Colombia, we guarantee fixed margins to farmers who would like to access to the specialty market while providing quality control and access to information to roasters throughout the seasons. We don’t work with large estates, because the potential value our customer’s demand creates is finite, so the choice to buy instead from small farms means access to predictable income for a greater number of people. For large consistent lots, we buy from cooperatives for fixed prices. And where large quantities of coffee are needed, these are made up of selected smaller lots from many farms in one region.
In 2016, we ran a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the construction of a community wet mill in the eastern municipality of Quindío, Colombia. This project provides neighbouring farmers with greater control over their coffee quality, and much needed control of their income through a fixed price payment system.
We believe that by allowing people from different points of the value chain to cup and discuss coffee together, the market opens up. By building an advanced community wet-mill, we can make good on the promise of development through trade. To find out more, please visit the website.
In May 2017, Raw Material met two new coffee producer groups in Pitalito, Huila, to understand what is preventing farmers from accessing the specialty market. These two groups represent almost 300 families, around 660Ha of coffee farmland, and around 1 million kg of coffee (parchment) production each year. Despite good production levels, income from coffee for these families has dropped to unsustainable levels in the past few years. They face a crossroad; either find alternative means of income outside coffee, or find a more stable and sustainable market.
During these discussions, we heard farmers describe their core challenges: a lack of key infrastructure; and lack of stable prices to provide certainty for investment in improved quality. To address these challenges, we launched Red Associations.