Olam partners with TechnoServe to train Guatemala’s coffee farmers

Four thousand smallholder farmers in the remote growing region of Huehuetenango in Guatemala will benefit from technical training and resources designed to raise coffee quality and livelihoods.

The partnership between Olam Coffee, part of Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), and international non-profit TechnoServe, as part of the Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) Project, will deliver a comprehensive training programme to equip farmers with knowledge and skills to improve their productivity and incomes, with access to higher-value markets.

Eighteen field staff from Olam and TechnoServe will work alongside the farmers, delivering training on everything from agricultural practices and farm renovation to waste-water management and post-harvest techniques. Higher yields and quality standards will open opportunities for farmers to secure premiums from certification and specialty markets, while lowering their production costs.

During the harvest period, the focus of the programme will switch to connecting the producers directly to markets to sell their beans, instead of the usual route via multiple intermediaries. Field staff will train and register farmers on Olam Direct, a digital buying platform that gives farmers the ability to negotiate and do business directly with Olam, and access information on daily market prices so that they retain more value from their crop. For Olam, the platform provides a traceability tool and captures data on the programme’s activities that will feed into the economic metrics of AtSource – the company’s sustainability insights platform – which will be used to track and monitor progress.

Commenting on the partnership, Nikhil Chandan, vice president & country head Guatemala at Olam Coffee said, “At a time when Covid is compounding the vulnerability of small-scale producers to climate and market shocks, there’s an added pressure to encourage and connect with growers so they can become more productive and resilient.” He said that Olam works with 650 farmers in Guatemala through existing sustainability programmes, but “we rely on collaboration to scale up our impact. This partnership is a really exciting opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the livelihoods of these 4,000 farmers and their families by enabling them to increase their yields by 30% by 2022. This will contribute to Olam Coffee’s wider target to improve the economic viability of coffee production for 200,000 households by 2025, as set out in our new sustainability strategy CoffeeLENS.”

Ryan Bathrick, director of MOCCA added, “Working together, we are more effective and generate more impact. We are united by our interest in providing business solutions that improve the living conditions of producers. Through the coffee growers’ hard work, and by leveraging a model that provides training and access to services that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, farmers are able to access higher-value markets. This improves living conditions for producers and their families in a lasting way.”

The project is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food for Progress Program: “USDA is proud to be able to support this program, which aims to improve the lives of coffee producers in Guatemala,” said Rachel Nelson, regional agricultural counsellor for Guatemala, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

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