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Honduras and Nicaragua learn from Colombia’s Sustainable Trading Platform

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Global Coffee Platform, GCP, Rainforest Alliance/UTZ and Solidaridad organized the first visit to exchange experiences of national platforms for sustainable coffee production with participants from Nicaragua, Honduras and Colombia. The event was held July 17th to 19th. in Bogota.

Attendees from these country coffee sectors shared their contexts and challenges in creating successful and multi-actor spaces. Main challenges identified where price instability; climate change; lack of new generation engagement; lack of labor force; low profitability and lack of resilience of coffee families.

Inspiring learning

Aura Lila Sevilla Kuan, Executive Committee Coordinator of the Nicaraguan Sustainable Coffee Platform, NICAFÉS (by its Spanish meaning) and President of the Alliance of Nicaraguan coffee Growers, ANCN, said that it was an inspiring experience to learn from Honduras, Colombia and Mexico. “Despite the weaknesses in terms of institutions, governance, and organizational aspects internally, it is very positive that we are advancing in the process, especially learning from other countries with stronger institutions and organizations in the sector.”

According to media reports, Nicaragua’s political unrest has been extended already for nearly three months, affecting all activities in the country including exports of agricultural products; and tourism that estimated loss reaches $230 million income of foreign exchange according to the Central Bank.

Learning how to build stronger institutions through Nicafés, launched in November 2017, has been of special interest to the coffee sector in this country. During 2016/2017 coffee crop exported 2.29 million bags of 60 Kg which represented US$486,435,028 income of foreign exchange.

Fausto Rodríguez, Co-director of Rikolto in Centro America which has supported NICAFE’s initiative, expressed “the need of more collective efforts and actions among platforms in the region was positively highlighted by the representatives; as well as, strengthening coffee organizations in competitiveness, building capacities and collaboration with other countries.”

For Juan Francisco Martínez, Representative of Rainforest Alliance in Nicaragua and Coordinator of the Sector Partnership Program in Central America said “the sum of collective efforts guarantees learning in the development of platforms nationwide “. Now members of each country need to adapt these experiences to their own contexts. “The challenge is to identify the existing gaps to create and facilitate a sustainable system with public and private collaboration, where all the actors of the value chain are represented,” he explained.

The Honduran delegation was integrated by the National Coffee Commission, AHPROCAFÉ, COHONDUCAFÉ, CODEXA and CHPP, government and private organizations interested in building the national platform to create greater impact. Rubén Gallozzi, Representative of Rainforest Alliance/UTZ in Honduras, indicated that despite it took five years to consolidate the Colombian platform, more and more members joined as they saw the benefits. He also added, “it is important to be clear about the purpose of its creation and what topics it will cover as the main objective is to produce sustainable coffee for demanding buyers”.

Organizations in the Colombian coffee sector such as Ángela Peláez from RGC Coffee; Daniel Ardila from CARCAFE; Mauricio Galindo from Rainforest Alliance/UTZ Colombia; and, Gustavo Gómez from ASOEXPORT, also shared with the delegations about the initiatives in sustainability that promote or finance coffee.

Successful sustainable coffee experiences

Within the program, field trips were organized to the Department of Cauca to learn about the initiatives supported by the Colombian Sustainable Trade Platform, PCS (by its Spanish meaning).

The delegations visited ASOGRUPOS, an experience of agricultural work incorporating the cultivation of coffee. They also visited the Coffee Cooperative of Cauca, CAFICACAUCA, which collects more than 50% of the coffee in the area and 80% of the specialty coffee, and where they also shared with the Association of Women Farmers of Cauca, an organization that has emerged from a post-conflict situation. This group has been increasing its operations, business skills, membership and ensuring its generational change.

Among the final reflections there was a talk on the importance of changing the mentality among the actors of the value chain to collaborate and generate greater impact. There is a clear gap in how the flow of knowledge occurs between scientists and the producers on the farm. In short, producers seek that the value paid by the consumers is distributed efficiently and transparent throughout the chain.

At the end of the visit, the participants showed interest in developing more activities while they thanked Solidaridad Colombia, GCP for organizing the event and UTZ/RA for financing the visit with funds from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Sector Partnership Program.

About NICAFES

NICAFES is a multi-stakeholder platform that brings together an average of 25 actors from the entire coffee value chain in Nicaragua. This platform aims to function as a space for dialogue, reflection and coordination of actions to respond to critical issues in the sector. Its general objective is to promote the competitive and sustainable development of the Nicaraguan coffee sector based on a common vision. For more information visit https://bit.ly/2oTRyEZ.

About ANCN

ANCN stands for Nicaraguan Coffee Growers and guarantees the logistics of Nicafés, as well as the execution of the operative plan agreed with the members of the platform. Likewise, maintain a communication channel with the allied organizations and coordinating NICAFES’ committee. For more information email sevillakuan@yahoo.es.

About Rikolto International

Rikolto International non-government organization (formerly known as VECO) with more than 40 years of experience in transforming value chains, strengthening small-scale farmers’ organizations and food chain actors in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and Latin America. For more information visit www.rikolto.org or contact Fausto Rodríguez at fausto.rodriguez@rikolto.org.

About Rainforest International

Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization and certification program. In January 2018 it merged with UTZ, a global program and label for sustainable farming, to have a greater impact.

Together, we are working to build a future in which nature is protected and biodiversity flourishes, where farmers, workers, and communities prosper, and where sustainable land use and responsible business practices are the norm. We envision a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.

Our head offices are in Amsterdam and New York, with regional offices around the world. For more information visit www.rainforest-alliance.org or contact Juan Francisco Martínez at jf.martinez@utz.org