Letter from a farmer to the farmers
I have always worried about being consistent with what I think, say, in my case, write and do. For this reason, I take the audacity, with criticism and proposals, to challenge existing models which are seen by the different things I try to do. Due to this, I want to share some of my experience with readers.
Based on the strong academic questions from recognized universities, about “Fair Trade” and the little or no impact it has on certified producers. Many growers are wondering if there are any marketing alternatives for commercialization of their coffee while asking themselves if their coffee meets the quality required to access Specialty Coffee markets. The answer, sadly, is that there are no channels in which the producer captures the value generated at the source beyond a small differential to the stock price.
The growers in Colombia attempting to grow specialty coffee find it near impossible for their coffee’s to be recognized and purchased at a Specialty Coffee price. Based on this reality we the farmers created initiatives through innovation and entrepreneurship while finding channels of commercialization through technology which allows us to connect directly with the buyer to give them exactly what they’re looking for. This segment in the countries of destination, is attended by intermediaries importers. The alliance of specialty coffee producers has built a mechanism to put the coffee on your destination, and through it the producers can sell their coffee capturing significant values according to quotes with completely different pricing than what the NY Stock Exchange market is requiring, while having all traceability to the end, for the farmers and the buyers.
The producers find the new direct trade model attractive while getting rid of the middleman. Roasters, who have always paid a high price for their coffee, want to be sure that what they pay for, reaches the producer directly. The problem is that the “Direct Trade” has become a strategy of intermediaries, using the impoverished producer as a sales tool; for this reason, the sales pitch of some and the others are the same. Therefore to differentiate customers who are really direct, is not easy. The “Direct Trade” must come to Colombia to know first hand.
In our common experience with Roasters, visits to our farms have been an essential element of approach and confidence between us. It ‘s been amazing to see first hand the reaction the Roasters have while visiting our farms and seeing the importance given to initiatives like this.
Our relationships with the Roasters are strongly enriched when they experience our people, culture, routes, architecture, food, kindness and warmth. Only when we express how wonderful our environment seems to them, we realize the wealth that surrounds us. This is the heritage of the coffee, and exploit, linking the landscape and the human, could be one of our strengths to enter the channels of specialty coffee.
The channels are open, they want our coffee, they want real Direct Trade, they want stories, differentiation, quality. It’s in our hands as producers, to educate, organize while producing excellent and consistent coffee which will allow us to supply the markets where there is a high demand for specialty coffee.
Originally posted on LaPatria.com.