by David Pohl
I am just back from a spectacular trip to Ecuador and Colombia, having firmed up existing relationships and started new ones. I was in Colombia for the Let's Talk Coffee event hosted by Sustainable Harvest, which brings together stakeholders from across the industry to "talk coffee" in a very concentrated and personal way over the course of a long weekend. In particular the coffees from Ecuador, Tanzania and Rwanda are all exceeding our expectations and are due in by the end of the year.
The bottom line for Fapecafes and Ecuador is that the growing conditions are ideal except for inconsistent rains, which wreak havoc on yields and overall quality. Climate change and deforestation have exacerbated this situation.
The solution is widespread adoption of irrigation systems, but this is very expensive. The challenge is getting access to credit, something the US is now more aware of given the troubles in the credit market. For the members of Fapecafes credit is quite honestly impossible to get - local banks just won't loan to small producers. So the task of lending falls to the cooperative, but the cooperative itself must be sure it has the capacity to administer loans to individual members so that it does not find itself in a tricky situation that could threaten the solvency of the organization. Fapecafes is currently going through a capacity building process that will allow it to access international credit and use it responsibly for the betterment of the organization.
The micro-credit loan we are providing to Fapecafes will be used for improvements to the quality control facilities in the El Batan community. These funds will be used to buy equipment to test recently harvested coffee at the community level, something the coffee farmers of El Batan have never been able to do. The equipment will be installed in the new community building El Batan is constructing (see pics).
I was honored to be able to visit Fapecafes and El Batan and look forward to strengthing this fruitful relationship over the coming years.
More Pics of Ecuador