Friday, November 5, 2010

Small-scale Producers Benefit from Increased Coffee Sales

Through Partners’ Farmer to Farmer Program, US technical experts from universities and businesses, including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, have traveled to Haiti, Honduras and elsewhere to provide assistance with coffee production, processing and marketing to small-scale producers.

Haiti: Coffee Sales Increase with Professional Labels and Packaging
Makouti Agro Enterprise, a Haitian-owned agribusiness based in Cap Haitien, works closely with the Farmer to Farmer Program. Makouti requested technical assistance in product marketing, packaging and labeling. Makouti member Gerard Michel Joseph, for example, sold his coffee in simple brown paper bags with no label and customers could not see the quality, origin or the brand of the coffee. To address this need, a Farmer to Farmer volunteer helped develop logos, design labels and improve packaging. The label demonstrates the coffee’s quality: natural with no added preservatives, finely ground, and locally harvested.  

Redesigning the shape of the package and including a professional label proved successful and profitable.  Before, most of the coffee was sold informally in Cap Haitien and to family members. Now, Makouti has signed contract with local hotels and supermarkets, and they are selling the coffee in fairs in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, including informally in US farmers markets.  Although processing constraints are currently hindering the production of an export-quality product, there is a lot of potential for improvement and growth.

Honduras: “Coffee That Builds Communities”
Coffee is the leading export in Honduras and makes up about 22% of export revenue.  Previously, Vermont Farmer to Farmer volunteers identified constraints faced by Honduran farmers in the specialty coffee market and helped develop strategies to overcome those constraints, improving access to international specialty markets and increasing producer income.  These strategies were based on improving quality control, developing organic and Fair Trade production practices, and building the institutional capacity necessary to promote Honduran specialty coffee abroad by providing technical assistance in key steps of the production cycle. 

In 2005, the Compañeros Cafe project was begun, with the help of the Knuth family and the Vermont chapter of Partners of the Americas.  The project buys coffee from small-scale, high-altitude, organic-certified farms in the Montaña de Comayagua national park in central Honduras.  The coffee sales support farmers and communities by paying fair prices and by returning profits in the form of community development projects.  To buy Compañeros Café or learn more about the project, please visit:  http://www.companeroscafe.com/

The Farmer to Farmer Program will continue to help small-scale coffee producers throughout the region.

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