Colombia, the third-largest coffee producer in the world, is asking coffee buyers to close a large earnings gap with farmers. An estimated 25,000 families, whose livelihoods depend on coffee cultivation, have opted to leave the industry or use their land for something else as the price of coffee drops.
CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.
It’s been almost 15 years since the Colombian specialty coffee brand Café Satori got its start. It has survived through the highs and lows of the industry.
Climate change and volatile coffee prices set internationally are some of the challenges. General Manager Jaime Gutierrez has worked on creating a sustainable model where the coffee is not only produced on the farm but also roasted and packaged so it’s ready for export.
Jaime Gutierrez, the General Manager of Café Satori says, “We need to find added value to our products, have your own brand, gain better quality, and produce special coffee, so we can have better income.”
It’s a struggle as coffee prices tumble. Many farmers in Colombia are opting to leave the industry altogether. Producers at Café Satori sometimes have to pay workers less. While the company has 15 full-time employees, a large number of seasonal workers are needed during the intensive labor harvest.
“Since the price is so low we don’t have enough money to pay these workers well. So they prefer to work in other industries such as road work and construction where they get paid better, so we are left without workers and so the quality could suffer.” adds Gutierrez.
During the recent U.N. General Assembly, leaders of 30 coffee-producing nations met to urge coffee buyers to close the earning gap between farmers and buyers. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation has proposed to base the price of coffee on production, instead of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
While leaders look for solutions, industry experts say farmers are abandoning coffee cultivation and looking for other ways to survive.
Jaime Gutierrez adds “There are many producers who are realizing that coffee production is not viable. They are disappointed in the coffee industry because they have sacrificed their whole life for a good product, and they go sell and they are paid an amount that doesn’t make this viable.”
Café Satori says it hasn’t lost hope in the industry. It currently exports to Chile, Germany and the U.S. and is looking to enter new markets in Asia in the hope to keep growing