LONDON, UK – Smallholder farmers in post-conflict zones in the south-west of Colombia will benefit from a new laboratory and training centre designed to raise coffee quality and livelihoods: The project, launched during Fairtrade fortnight, has been set up and jointly funded by Olam Coffee, in partnership with John Lewis Partnership, Bewley’s Tea & Coffee, and coffee cooperative ASOPEP.
The quality lab and education facilities will allow local growers to access training on organic and sustainable farming, good agricultural practices, new varieties and quality testing. Olam’s coffee specialists will also deliver advanced post-harvest processing workshops, to introduce farmers to the latest techniques for producing higher grades.
“In the current climate of unpredictable weather and prices, it’s important to encourage and upskill growers to produce higher quality beans that qualify for specialty coffee markets, where prices are higher and more stable,” said Head of Sustainability and Differentiated Coffee for Olam in Colombia, Catalina González Sánchez.
“We work with 5,000 farmers in Colombia through existing sustainability programmes and we rely on collaboration to truly catalyse change. We’re incredibly proud of this partnership with JLP and Bewley’s which will not only directly benefit 100 coffee farmers, but hundreds more in the local communities whose livelihoods also depend on coffee. It’s a great example of how joint efforts on sustainability can deliver value throughout the supply chain.”
Nykia Brain, Partner & Manager, Sustainability, John Lewis Partnership added: “We’re excited to be launching this programme in partnership with Olam Coffee, Bewleys UK and the Fairtrade Foundation UK to commemorate our move to 100% Fairtrade coffee across our John Lewis Partnership cafes. We hope that the planned laboratory and training centre will help inspire a new generation of coffee farmers and support the long term sustainability of the industry. We look forward to sharing the story with our customers.”
The ambitions of the project will be monitored through the social and environmental metrics of Olam’s sustainable sourcing platform AtSourcei, with training delivered and data captured by their team of field agronomists.
Coffee Programme Manager of Bewley’s UK, David Jameson said: “By supporting the community in Planadas in this way, we can help coffee farmers improve their yield and quality, and by doing so, help them to safeguard their income in the future. The working relationship with Olam Specialty Coffee, and in particular their AtSource+ platform, which monitors and manages the programme has been excellent. Through having a calibrated cohort of coffee cuppers from co-op through to the regional office in Planadas, export office in Bogota, import office in Liverpool and the quality lab in Yorkshire, we have managed to deliver consistent, delicious coffee.”
Over the next three years, the development of the lab and training centre will benefit around 2000 members of coffee communities in Huila and Tolima, with training focussed particularly on women and the younger generation