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Mitsubishi Corporation supports small farmers in Colombia

Coffee exports to Japan a big step towards reducing poverty and illegal crop cultivation among farmers

Colombian coffee

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) is pleased to announce that small farmers in the Department of Norte de Santander in Colombia receiving support under its international contributions program, and in collaboration with the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC), will export their first batch of coffee beans for sale in the Japanese market later this year.

The Colombian government has launched a series of national campaigns to reduce the extent to which poor farming communities resort to the cultivation of illegal crops.

Notable among those campaigns is its Forest Ranger Families Program. In July 2008, MC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Colombian Government and FNC to support this program, which made a commitment to providing skills development training related to infrastructure and environmental protection to small coffee farmers in Norte de Santander over a 10-year period. Support centered mainly on boosting capacity for pulping and drying coffee berries cultivated locally.

MC has now entered into an agreement to purchase the coffee processed by 288 Norte de Santander farmers supported under the program for sale in the Japanese market. This is the first time that coffee produced by small-scale farmers in a specific location is being imported into Japan, which has traditionally focused on the import of blended coffee or imported from other coffee-producing regions.

Securing the export of their product to a major coffee-consuming market such as Japan is expected to go a long way in helping to reduce levels of poverty among small coffee farmers in the region while at the same time contribute to eradicating the cultivation of illegal crops in Colombia.

The aroma-rich coffee, typical of highly-acclaimed Colombian coffee beans, is valued above the USD 3.40 per kilogram average, which attests to the quality of the product. Consumers in Japan can expect to start enjoying this high-quality coffee from around October or November of this year.

MC intends to continue working with the Colombian government, FNC and other relevant bodies to support small coffee farmers in an effort to assist with the country’s efforts to alleviate poverty and reduce dependence on illegal crops, thereby contributing to Colombia’s overall development.

Project Outline

Project Name: Forest Ranger Families Program
(Spanish Name: Programa Familias Guardabosques)

Participating Bodies: Office of the President of Colombia, FNC, local governments, public financial institutions, Mitsubishi Corporation

Government Contributions: USD 12,843,914 (including USD 1,778,359 for coffee-related programs)

MC’s Contribution: USD 1,000,000 (over 10 years from 2009 to 2018)

Program Contents: Training and skills development for local farmers through the dispatch of agricultural specialists and investments in environmentally-friendly coffee washing and drying equipment.

Area of Implementation: Nine Departments, namely: Narino, Huila, Cauca, Tolima, Magdalena, La Guajira, Norte de Santander, Boyaca and Santander).

Number of Farmers: 2,880 (covering a farming area of 2,745 hectares).

Current Status: Program already implemented in Narino, Huila, Cauca, Tolima, Magdalena and La Guajira between 2009 and 2014.

Impact of Support Provided

Support to small-scale coffee farmers under this program sought mainly to boost their capacity for pulping and drying coffee berries. In particular, the renewal of processing equipment led to improvements in hygiene and reduced the time to completion.

How the skin and pulp are removed helps to determine the flavor and aroma of the final product, so this also contributed to improving the quality of the locally produced coffee. The new equipment also reduced the quantities of water used for washing, thereby also having a positive impact on the surrounding environment.