Starbucks will provide skills training and technological tools to 1,000 young coffee farmers in areas of Colombia previously affected by conflict.
Launched in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the move is part of a range of measures which the coffee chain says forms part of its commitment to sourcing ethical and sustainable coffee.
It claimed the support would help young coffee farmers build greater resiliency and expertise. Starbucks vowed to continue creating opportunities in some of Colombia’s most vulnerable coffee-growing communities.
The firm will also contribute $2 million to a farmer loan programme focused on smallholder women coffee farmers in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Both of the partnerships will advance the work of the Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Manizales, Colombia – south of Medellín – which lies at the heart of the country’s coffee-growing region. The centre aims to connect farmers with the right support and technical assistance.
The ongoing investment was welcomed by Roberto Vélez, CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC).
“We support efforts like those that Starbucks is making in Colombia to work with farmers to advance sustainability, especially in post-conflict areas that need it most,” Vélez said. “Starbucks’ efforts to work with young farmers complements the work of the FNC and allows us to scale our impact and reach for generations to come.”
Starbucks director for ethical sourcing programmes Kelly Goodejohn said: “While we have always worked with the Colombian coffee community to ensure access to the right tools and information they need to maintain and grow successful businesses, there is a significant opportunity to support the next generation of coffee farmers in new ways.
“By partnering with organisations like USAID and IDB, as well as the Colombian government and the FNC, we can be even more intentional about ensuring that young men and women get more advanced technology and financial assistance to create a future for their families for generations to come.”
Coffee farmers in Colombia faced challenges maintaining their crops during the country’s 50-year civil conflict, which was brought to a conclusion last year following the signing of a peace agreement with Farc rebels.
Starbucks says that the coffee industry, along with the government of Colombia, is working to help repair the lives of Colombian coffee farmers by focusing on the quality of their crops.
Starbucks is also working with the IDB to contribute to the economic and social empowerment of 2,000 women-led smallholder coffee growers in the states of Antioquia and Chocó.
This $4 million farmer loan project will include a contribution of $2 million from Starbucks’ Global Farmer Loan Fund, which has a commitment to distribute $50 million in farmer loans worldwide by 2020, and up to $2 million from IDB through its Multilateral Investment Fund.
“Climate change is real for these women and the farmers from the Andes region,” said IDB lead operations and investment officer Alejandro Escobar. “In order to face this challenge and become more resilient, strategic investments need to happen at the farm level. This loan programme implemented with Cooperandes and in collaboration with Starbucks will enable these women farmers to invest in their coffee farms, thus making them more productive and improving their livelihoods for the long term.”
The programme will establish a system for the members of the Cooperandes coffee-growing co-operative, most whom are women, to access financing. The money will allow increased yields and higher levels of quality among member producers.
It will also provide an opportunity for short- and long-term assistance through a unique financing model that provides low-risk loans to farmers for renovation, with complementary technical assistance being provided too.
The Seattle-based business has previously invested in supporting Colombian growers, and former-CEO Howard Schultz has previously pledged to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022 in an apparent snub to the policies of President Donald Trump.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017