A Win-Win-Win for Consumers, Farmers and the Environment
Guest blog from Miguel Zamora, the Director of Coffee Innovation and Producer Relations
This guest blog post comes to us from our very own Miguel Zamora, the Director of Coffee Innovation and Producer Relations at Fair Trade USA. Miguel is focused on creating opportunities between buyers and coffee-growing communities around the world. In this post, Miguel talks about the potential for small-scale farmers in Honduras who hope to access the many opportunities and benefits of Fair Trade through Fair Trade USA's new Independent Smallholder Standard (ISS).
Earlier this year, I visited smallholder coffee farmers in the Department of Copan in Honduras, one of the most beautiful regions in the country. We are working with more than 100 farmers in Copan who want to join Fair Trade but who are not part of a cooperative or other farmer organization who could get Fair Trade certified under the old standards. One of the farmers, Faustino, told me how preparing for Fair Trade helped him and his community to save water and reduce pollution, while improving the quality of coffee.
As Faustino mentions in the video, farmers in this group recently began processing coffee cherries in a central facility instead of each farmer processing cherries at home. The benefits of this: less pollution and more drinking water for the community, and better quality of coffee. Farmers are no longer using the potable water from the town; rather they are using non-potable water from the river. In addition, they are now treating and filtering the ‘honey water’ (leftover water from the process) so this water does not pollute the river.
This practice has a direct effect in the quality of coffee. Before, each farmer processed the coffee separately and sold the coffee as ‘wet parchment’ (unfinished processed coffee with high content of water that makes it more prone to fermentation and negative changes in quality). This is still a common practice for many farmers in Honduras. By processing the coffee together, the farmers have more control and uniformity on the quality of the coffee. They can also collaborate drying the coffee together to significantly reduce the risk of over-fermentation. The better the quality of the coffee, the more money farmers will receive for that coffee.
Faustino, sitting at the top of the central processing facility that farmers built to reduce water consumption & pollution and improve the quality of coffee.
Faustino and his fellow farmers are an example of how meeting Fair Trade standards can help farmers produce better quality coffee, at the same time that they protect the environment and improve their communities. In this case, this means better coffee for consumers, more money for farmers, more water for farming communities and less pollution for the environment.
This post is part of our Innovation Update Series. Please stay tuned as we report on both the successes and challenges involved in launching each coffee pilot, our cooperative-strengthening program Co-op Link, and our progress on Fair Trade for All as a whole. It's a unique opportunity for people to learn about the farmers and workers participating in these programs, what Fair Trade means to them, and how we can work together to build a more inclusive, collaborative approach that supports everyone in the global coffee supply chain willing to commit to a journey of sustainability, responsibility, empowerment and impact.
To learn more about Fair Trade Certified coffee, click here.