Responsible Sourcing Project Helps Brazilian Producers

08/04/2009 - 11:29 AM
[caption id="attachment_854" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Coopfam farmers on their cement drying patios built by the grant program."]Coopfam farmers on their cement drying patios built by the grant program.[/caption] In the coffee farming business, the difference between producing low-value mediocre coffee and high-quality coffee with the potential to command a strong price can be something as simple as a cement drying patio. Coffee quality is often determined by how well it is handled after the cherries have been plucked from the coffee trees, and only top-quality, well-handled coffee fetches premium prices on the market. In Brazil, Fair Trade Certified coffee farmers often grow quality coffee, but lack the resources and infrastructure to make sure that their coffee cherries are hulled, dried, and processed correctly to preserve that quality and earn top prices. Enter the Infrastructure Grant Program! As part of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership between TransFair USA, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., USAID, and SEBRAE, the Infrastructure Grant Program is designed to address specific, self-identified infrastructure needs of Brazilian coffee growers. The Producer Groups are responsible for designing their own project proposals, creating a reasonable budget and effectively articulating their plans. The groups have taken full ownership of the projects; they initiated the project, are fully vested in the planning process and are working toward true organizational improvement. This process also strengthens the valuable skills of proposal writing and applying for loans and grants. So far, the Grant Program has funded five grants at five producer organizations with a total value of $140,000! The groups used these funds to construct 30 drying patios, install seven hulling facilities, deploy two mobile processing units and started three rotating grant funds! Results of the completed infrastructure improvements became visible shortly after project completion. Producer groups’ have reported big improvements in the quality of their coffee. The results were validated in the 2008 Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition where the first place coffee, dried on a cement patio installed under the Infrastructure Grant Program, sold at auction for an amazing $7.20 per pound! Three of the groups independently addressed the issue of sustainability, which was an unanticipated outcome of the Infrastructure Grant Program. All three designed rotating funds for members who have received infrastructure grants; those who receive money for an infrastructure improvement must return to the cooperative a portion of the profits made from their new patio or machinery. The cooperative then reinvests these funds the following year into additional infrastructure for other producer members, ensuring that funding is always available for improvements and that the entire cooperative continually benefits from the Grant Program! Overall, results have far exceeded expectations, raising product quality while also generating internal dialogue and capacity building within participating producer groups.
08/04/2009 - 11:29 AM
08/04/2009 - 11:29 AM