There is a huge divide between smallholder farming families and their business partners at the end of the value chain.
This distance causes challenges, especially at the farmer’s end: they lack access to information on how their product sells – and thereby the potential to improve their coffee quality and increase their income.
The International Coffee Partners support – in cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Lavazza Foundation and S&D Coffee and Tea – a project, in which smallholder coffee farmers receive technical training to improve among others both the quality as well as the quantity of their produce.
Next to this, they have the opportunity to participate in the “Concurso de Qualidade”, a Coffee Quality Competition.
In October 2016, this event took place for the third time. In this unique format, the farmers are invited to submit samples of their coffee to a high-ranking jury of industry representatives, directly grading their coffee and facilitating direct business relationships.
The objective of the event is to connect the farmers directly with industry stakeholders, reaching from export companies, larger roasters to speciality roasters in consuming countries.
In a process beginning in early summer, the farmers are invited to share their samples with a pre-selection committee. In a multitude of cuppings, this committee selects about 100 coffees and invites the farmers to join the Coffee Quality Competition.
Marcelo Vieira (picture), a coffee farmer from Santa Margarida in the region Matas de Minas, won the first place in the category natural processing.
He states: “It was the first time I participated in a coffee competition.
It was an honor, and I feel very grateful that my coffee scored this high in quality. In my region, we have many good coffees, so by taking better care of the coffee fields and participating in the competitions like this, we can evolve and reach new markets.
This event and the project work help to give us a perspective, so it is an evolution to us.” Michele Mastrantuono, Coffee R&D Manager at Lavazza, adds: “We are identifying the coffee’s cup profile, its flavor and other attributes, making a complete analysis from a sensory perspective.
For the farmer, it is a substantial advantage to know about how the quality of his coffee unfolds after processing it – being able to improve the quality even more.”
One element that connects all the farmers is that they are beneficiaries of a sustainable development project empowered by the International Coffee Partners.
Up to date, the “Força Café” project works with more than 6.000 smallholder coffee farmers and their families in 25 cities in the South and East of Minas Gerais, the most relevant states for coffee production in Brazil.
The project activities include technical assistance to improve their productivity, efficiency and quality.
At the same time, the project aims to help the farmers to have more qualification on dealing with their business, marketing, commercialization of their coffee and in the adaptation of the production systems of climate change.
About International Coffee Partners GmbH
International Coffee Partners GmbH (ICP) is an initiative founded by five leading European coffee companies, Gustav Paulig Ltd. of Finland, Löfbergs Lila of Sweden, Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. of Italy, Neumann Gruppe GmbH of Germany and Tchibo GmbH of Germany in 2001.
In 2011, Joh. Johannson Kaffe AS of Norway joined the partnership and since 2014, Franck d.d. of Croatia is a member.
The vision is to make smallholder coffee farming more competitive to improve the living conditions for the farmers and their families through concrete projects with a strong local ownership.
An innovative regional design will make scaling to much larger farm populations and eventually national programs ever more likely. More information is available at www.coffee-partners.org