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¡Tierra! ’s presence at World of Coffee 2019 highlighted the company’s effective involvement in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects while presenting a deep dive conference on the META SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT, giving the floor to the protagonists – Vivian Vasquez (project coordinator) and Jorge Andres Adarme Muñoz (agronomist) – and the LAMBARI SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT – giving the floor to the protagonists Máximo Ochoa J. (agronomist) and Ricardo Silva (coffee producer).
From Brazil to Colombia: A Journey with Local Farmers and Agronomists Through Sustainable Coffee Projects
After a quick overview by Mario Cerutti on the Lavazza Foundation and the sustainability projects approach, the discussion focused on Lambari project and the capacity to adapt livelihoods and production systems to climate change. The project’s agronomist Max Ochoa and coffee producer Ricardo Silva took the audience to the area of Lambari, located in the state of Minas Gerais, the largest coffee-producing state in Brazil. Since 2010 Lavazza Foundation, in partnership with Hanss R. Neumann Stiftung, is managing a sustainability project to contribute to increase the income of small-scale coffee farmers supporting climate change adaptation and good agricultural practices. The audience was then taken to Colombia, in the department of Meta; since 2013, this area has been a part of the government program of “Lands restitution” where empty plots of lands are been reassigned and given back to displaced peasant families. Farmers are slowly coming back so this region will recover the once lost life. Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation Onlus and Carcafè Ltda have been managing a sustainability project since 2015: Vivian Vasquez (project coordinator) and Jorge Andres Adarme Muñoz (agronomist) illustrated the achievements and challenges that coffee farmers in the Meta department are facing every day.
The journey continued with a deep dive on how the collaboration with Rainforest Alliance has positively impacted both communities in Brazil and Colombia, creating sustainable working conditions and raising coffee quality as well as the productivity of the plantations through sustainable cultivation standards.
Lambari, Brazil: Empowering Small-Scale Coffee Farmers for Global Markets and Climate Change Resilience
Agronomist Max Ochoa and coffee producer Ricardo Silva took the audience to the area of Lambarì, located in the state of Minas Gerais, the largest coffee-producing state in Brazil. According to Censo Agropecuário do Brasil (2006), 28.1% of the coffee production comes from family farming, equivalent to around 5% of the world coffee production. Small-scale coffee farmers in Lambari – Minas Gerais, on average, have lower coffee yields and produce lower quality coffee than medium/large-scale coffee farmers, and they thus are less efficient, obtain lower prices, and earn a lower income; in addition, small-scale farmers act individually in their marketing activities, delivering small volumes to local buyers with greater market knowledge and negotiating power.
Furthermore, negative climatic impact is foreseen for the coffee of Minas Gerais, making it necessary to increase the resilience of the systems of production. Since 2010 Lavazza Foundation, in partnership with Hanss R. Neumann Stiftung, is managing a sustainability project to contribute to increase the income of small-scale coffee farmers in Minas Gerais. The specific objective is to improve coffee quality, market access and support climate change adaptation for small-scale coffee farmers in southern and eastern Minas Gerais. The project’s agronomist Max Ochoa and coffee producer Ricardo Silva shared the main issues as well as the main achievements, explaining how better coffee quality can be achieved by improving productivity, efficiency, and environmental sustainability at farm level, whilst improving commercial capacity of farmers’ organizations and their capacity to adapt livelihoods and production systems to climate change.
Colombia: How the Meta Region is Getting Back to Quality Coffee Production
Colombia is worldwide known for its quality coffee, but this is tied mainly to coffee harvested in the traditional coffee axis, located in the center of the country between the three main mountain ranges where 60% of Colombians live. But there is a relatively unknown region, located in the department of Meta, where 60 immigrants began farming only 50 years ago on a tiny amount of land, looking for a more prosperous living. As it has been since 2013, this area is part of a “land restitution” government program where empty plots of lands are reassigned, and given back, to displaced peasant families. Farmers are slowly coming back, allowing the region to recover its previously lost life.
Since 2015, Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation Onlus and Carcafè Ltda have managed a sustainability project aimed at enhancing coffee product quality and quality consistency through training sessions and investments in infrastructure, promoting networking opportunities for farmers’ organizations. In collaboration with Rainforest Alliance, more than one hundred families of Colombian farmers restored the coffee plantations, creating sustainable working conditions and raising the coffee quality as well as the productivity of the plantations through sustainable cultivation standards.
Vivian Vasquez (Coordinador Proyectos Cooperacion Internacional for Carcafè) and Jorge Andres Adarme Muñoz (Agronomist Proyecto Meta) shared the achievements and challenges that coffee farmers in the Meta department are facing every day. As a result, the area has already started producing high-quality coffee for Lavazza’s ¡Tierra! Colombia product sourced from 100% sustainable agriculture certified by Rainforest Alliance.
Beginning in 2018, the Foundation set itself the goal of providing coffee growers with new technological tools, helping them improving agricultural techniques and managing the effects of climate change. This project is comprised of four elements: internet access and connectivity through the TV white space technology, technological training for coffee farmers, and access to telemedicine and telediagnostics. The result is a community empowered by the development of new technology that brings knowledge, advanced farming skills, and access to healthcare and diagnostic services through telemedicine: all these possibilities were unthinkable only two years ago.
Why ¡Tierra! ?
As a family-run company, Lavazza has always had a very personal concern for ethics and sustainability handed down from generation to generation. In 2004, Lavazza officially set up the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation and in 2016 an independent sustainability department has been integrated within the company. The Foundation works with local and NGO partners in different coffee-producing countries across the world to establish projects aimed at increasing the quality of coffee grown and stimulate economic development and women and youth empowerment in target communities. Currently, the Lavazza Foundation supports 24 projects in 17 countries and on three continents, involving more than 94,000 coffee farmers. The Foundation additionally collaborates with organizations such as International Coffee Partners (ICP), Save the Children, and Oxfam to develop projects around the world focused on furthering the Foundation’s mission of helping improve the lives of coffee-growing communities.
Launched under the guidance of the Lavazza Foundation, the multi-faceted ¡Tierra! Project is an example of what Lavazza does to improve the living conditions, social development and economic growth of coffee farming communities while respecting the environment. It was created keeping in mind the core principles of premium product quality, support and care for small communities, and respect for the planet.
The ¡Tierra! project led to the creation of the high-quality blend of the same name, produced with coffee from 100 percent sustainable plantations, allowing consumers to enjoy an excellent beverage that is at the same time certified by the project’s partner and esteemed international NGO, the Rainforest Alliance. Today, Lavazza offers consumers an international range of ¡Tierra! products made for both the Home and Away-From-Home sectors sourced from farms in a number of communities in Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Brazil, Tanzania, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.
The main areas of Lavazza’s CSR strategy are good practices, from plantation to cup – increasing coffee yields and quality, while promoting entrepreneurship among coffee growers and improving their living conditions – promoting ecological agricultural practices and supporting a sustainable social development, placing the company’s coffee-processing expertise at the community’s disposal, and pursuing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, welcoming the 2030 Agenda as a guide for developing our own sustainable strategy.
Twenty years ago, Lavazza was already engaged in doing something for the coffee communities, particularly through the projects of the Lavazza Foundation, which is still at the core of Lavazza’s sustainability strategy. Lavazza is deeply committed in doing this, involving all its stakeholders, including all employees, suppliers, local communities, universities, and consumers.
It is a real call to action for the world. Since 2015, the Lavazza Calendar project became a tool for us to communicate our brand in a fresh, provocative, and contemporary way as well as important sustainability and CSR themes around the globe. First with our “Earth Defenders” calendar trilogy (2015-2017), the “2030: What are you doing?” calendar (2018), and now in 2019 with “Good to Earth.” With “Good to Earth” Lavazza wants to transmit the fact that every person has the ability to transform their lives, their communities and their world through action. The stories LVZ presents in the Calendar aim to be stories that inspire and spread positivity. Indeed, it’s not all bad news out there.
Lavazza has in recent years decided to pursue a path of concrete collaboration with major organizations to help meet sustainability objectives. This includes signing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as by joining the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) and the United Nations’ Global Compact.
In addition to the above projects, along with the process of integrating sustainability into all areas of Lavazza’s business, we are also structuring both external and internal communication channels to spread the voice on the topic of sustainability. In 2018, we put in place an internal communication program focusing on the UN 17 goals for all Lavazza employees to create awareness and consciousness about the company’s commitment. As an external communication tool, we mainly leverage on the Annual Sustainability Report, and, last but not least, we also started to communicate sustainability through the product, principally the ¡Tierra! range.