Coop Coffees has its feet on the ground with producer partners like never before! Thanks to the generous support of the USAID sponsored Farmer-to-Farmer Program, our roaster-members and staff have been enlisted to provide technical advice on topics of their expertise (quality control, specialty roasted coffee, market knowledge, navigating Fair Trade and organic certifications). After the first round of assignments that began in July 2009 and ended in January 2011, USAID renewed the grant for another set of roaster-to-farmer exchanges into 2012!
These exchanges have proven to be an excellent platform for both cultural exchange and personal development. “We see this as a triple win-win opportunity,” says Monika Firl special projects manager. “Producer partners have appreciated the direct one on one support; roasters have returned more motivated than ever to be active promoters of Fair Trade and effective entrepreneurs; and all have grown from the cultural experience and on the ground challenges.”
The Farmer-to-Farmer Program was created in 1985 by the US Congress, and since then, over 12,000 volunteer assignments have been completed in over 80 countries, affecting some 1 million farmer families (learn more here).
Coop Coffees is part of one of the Farmer-to-Farmer special programs and support project grants via the USAID's collaborative offices at Weidemann Associates. During the delegations, teams of roasters meet with small-scale coffee farmers to discuss and explore the challenges and opportunities of working within the Fair Trade, organic, and specialty coffee markets The project has been developed in close collaboration with cooperatives and associations within Coop Coffees’ existing network of producers. These community-based producer organizations are vital to the economy and sustainability of the surrounding areas giving this project the potential to impact much larger groups of people as well.
The challenges facing small-scale farmers in today’s ecological and economic context remain daunting, but with appropriate intervention and well-targeted support, we are confident that tangible and sustainable results are possible. The Farmer-to-Farmer fund provides the kind of financial support that an organization like Coop Coffees, with its members and partners, can efficiently and effectively utilize to help bring these results to completion.
From August 2009 to January 2011, Coop Coffees completed 15 volunteer assignments in producer countries. We proposed a second round of assignments for the 2011-2012 season and received funding in March 2011.