Ensuring a fair price for our partners

The launch
of its first FAIRTRADE Mark certified coffee, NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’BLEND®,
is Nestlé’s latest initiative to help the people of El Salvador and
Ethiopia

One of the major problems with the world coffee market today is that
when there is an excess supply of coffee beans it causes the price of
coffee to fall, and in recent times this has reached very low levels.
Although prices have improved recently, the underlying problems remain.

Nestlé’s long-term commitment is to develop sustainable agricultural
practices, and the company has been involved in a number of initiatives
for many years. NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND, its first FAIRTRADE Mark
certified coffee, is the latest initiative to help solve this
long-standing problem.

NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND is made from beans
supplied by coffee producers who have achieved certification from the
Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International.

The FAIRTRADE
Mark on NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND means consumers can be confident that
farmers who produce the coffee will be receiving a fair and stable
price for their products and that their income and that of the
cooperative farmers will be enough to improve their lives.

It
also guarantees small farmers a stronger position in the world market,
with closer links between consumers and producers as well as giving
peace of mind that steps are being taken to protect the environment.

Alastair
Sykes, CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland, said, “We need to ensure that
farmers in the developing world not only receive a fair price for the
coffee, but that their sources of income are developed to support their
families into the future in a manner that respects their lands and
communities. These are issues that concern the public and which have
led to increasing demand for Fairtrade products.

We are therefore delighted to offer consumers a product carrying the approved FAIRTRADE Mark.”

NESCAFÉ
PARTNERS’ BLEND is made from 100% Arabica coffee produced in El
Salvador and Ethiopia. The soil and climate in these two countries
provide the optimum growing conditions for this type of bean, which is
considered to be of superior quality and flavour to other commercial
coffee.

An existing Fairtrade supplier in Ethiopia, the Oromia
Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, supplies NESCAFÉ with high-quality
beans, which go to make NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND. Oromia has 74 member
cooperatives, of which 11 have achieved Fairtrade certification –
together they represent 8,963 farmers and their families.

Oromia’s
objectives are to improve the farmers’ income, maintain the quality of
coffee production and maintain the sustainability of the coffee
industry, as well as improving quality and productivity of Ethiopian
coffee, regulating the local market, and improving reliability and
service.

NESCAFÉ is also working with other farmers in Ethiopia to help them achieve Fairtrade certification.

Coffee
is the number one export of El Salvador, supporting close to 135,000
jobs and contributing about 30 per cent of the country’s revenues. For
the small-scale coffee farmers in this tiny country, one of the biggest
difficulties has been their reliance on traditional techniques and the
continuation of inefficient farming practices which have resulted in
unprofitable yields.

Low market prices of coffee in recent years
have meant farmers have little incentive and few resources to invest in
improving quality or productivity. Most of the farmers are also
entirely reliant on coffee crops, so if they fail they have no other
source of income.

Four cooperatives in El Salvador will be
supplying coffee for NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND. Part of a wider
cooperative association called Proexcafe, which provides its members
with technical assistance, training, market information, and other
marketing support, these four cooperatives have recently been certified
to international Fairtrade standards.

NESCAFÉ has been working
with these four cooperatives to improve their productivity and security
by giving them the right resources to grow better coffee more
efficiently, and providing them with help to identify which produce to
introduce in order to diversify and break their reliance on coffee
production.

NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND will be available from
October 2005 in major retailers.NESCAFÉ believes that sustainable
agriculture is one approach to help farmers like José. This means
helping meet farmers’ and their communities’ social, economic and
environmental needs so that, in the long run, they can become more
self-sufficient and can build sustainable businesses. In 2002 Nestlé
cofounded the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, a group that works
with farmers to develop sustainable approaches to coffee growing.

This
includes advising communities like José’s how to grow other crops
providing stability for the farmers when fluctuations affect the coffee
price.

NESCAFÉ also provides farmers with expert agricultural
specialists who are on hand with advice to ensure the coffee crop is of
good quality.

In El Salvador NESCAFÉ gives technical and
financial support to help the farmers become sustainable in the long
term. So far NESCAFÉ has provided improved housing for workers, given
technical and agricultural assistance to farmers and built a learning
centre and clinic which will be visited regularly by a doctor.

An
educational project involving 700 pupils is also under way. In
addition, farmers have been given chickens to breed and help with
growing fruit and vegetables for their own consumption and to trade at
local market to make extra money.

NESCAFÉ recognises the
important role that Fairtrade plays in helping small holder producers
cope in today’s global economy. For this reason NESCAFÉ and Fairtrade
Labelling Organisation International have worked together to certify
the groups of farmers NESCAFÉ has been helping in El Salvador. NESCAFÉ
is working to internationally agreed independent Fairtrade standards to
demonstrate that these farmers have received a fair deal.

The
beans produced by this El Salvador project will be used in the
production of NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND. When people purchase this
product it will make a direct and positive difference to José, his
family and his community, socially, economically and environmentally.

NESCAFÉ
has created a comprehensive website www.growmorethancoffee.co.uk which
contains more information on NESCAFÉ’s ongoing commitment and vision
for NESCAFÉ PARTNERS’ BLEND, plus information on how buying the product
can provide the farmers of the El Salvador project with a sustainable
lifestyle.

Helping the hardest hit EL SALVADOR

The tiny central American nation of El Salvador, with a population
of 6.4 million people, has been in constant upheaval for a quarter of a
century.

Following the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Romero, the country
erupted into a civil war which claimed the lives of 70,000 people. In
1992, the UN brokered a ceasefire, backed by political reform, which
helped the country get back on its feet, only to be brought to its
knees once more by a series of natural disasters.

Hurricane Mitch
rolled in from the north Pacific in October 1998 causing $2bn worth of
damage, this was quickly followed by a series of earthquakes which
further shook the populace, claiming the lives of over 1,200 people and
destroying the homes of a million more.

With an economy
traditionally dependent on production of coffee, the country’s finances
have been held subject to vagaries and fluctuations in the price of the
world’s second-most widely traded commodity – and when the market turns
downwards, it is the country’s poorest people who are hit the hardest.

 

José Maria Rivas is 64 and the owner of a coffee plantation comprising some five hectares of land.

“My
plantation is my life. If I can’t sleep in the early hours I come down
to the farm and start working. I’m never apart from my two dogs, or
indeed my hat or my machete and you’ll never see me in clean clothes,
as I’m always covered in soil from the land.

Coffee has been my
entire life, but it’s been a struggle to get by in recent years due to
the low prices on the market. We’ve had a tough winter this year and
it’s been really hard. Although it rained, the coffee plants sucked up
every ounce of water and there still wasn’t enough. We finally realised
that we simply can’t rely on coffee to get by.

I’m one of the
founding members of the Tepeczunt cooperative, we’ve been working with
some experts from the Project to diversify our produce. The latest
addition to my plantation is my new chicken farm. I currently have a
hundred chickens and the experts are teaching me how to raise them.
They’ve also advised me on my garden where I now grow fruit trees –
atthe moment I’ve got beautiful bunches of bananas flourishing. Not
only can I sell these to make a little extra income, but I can also
take them home to eat – it’s thanks to my farm that I’ve been able to
support my family.

I truly believe in the cooperative as I’ve
felt the benefits already. Today I sell my coffee with confidence.
Previously it went to the middle-men and I was kept in the dark about
how much my coffee would fetch at market.

Nowadays, all the members keep up with the price of coffee and the reasons for its fluctuations.

Basically,
we’re all much better informed so no-one can swindle or exploit us. The
situation’s completely turned around, the Fairtrade certification will
mean we get a guaranteed minimum price which is much higher than we
receive through the middle-men.

This year’s been the first time
that we’ve actually received help from anyone. We certainly never
expected the agricultural package that the experts gave us. It included
fertiliser, shears, a saw and a large number of coffee plants.My wife
Maria Josefa Perez is my number two on the farm. We married 45 years
ago and ever since then the plantation has been our livelihood. While I
look after the plantation, she carries out all the domestic chores and
prepares the food for the children. We were lucky as we managed to send
all three kids to school. One of them is now a trader and the other two
are off seeking their fortunes in Italy.

Another good thing to
come out of the farm is that we now share more with the neighbours;
before we knew each other to say ‘hello’ but we rarely met up.

Now
it’s different, our futures are tied together and we share all our
money worries. I feel like part of one big family. We chat about how
we’re managing, what more we can do for our farms, and how to make the
coffee business work.

I’ve never been able to leave my hometown
of San Miguel Tepezotes, because I know my farm would die. It would be
a disaster if I were away for long, so I don’t leave. It doesn’t matter
because I’m happy here.”

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