October 01, 2015

Growing profitable Mexican coffee

Celebrating the International coffee day on 1 October, we would like to take you to Mexico – the seventh largest producer of coffee in the world.
Mexican coffee farmers
Mexican coffee farmers

Did you know that more than half a million Mexican farmers make a living from this vastly popular drink so many of us are so dependent on each and every day? Higher consumption implies more demand. More demand requires more knowledge about crop nutrition and agricultural skills to produce the needed quantity and quality without damaging the environment.

Mexico is the country where Yara’s activities within the coffee farming sector are most advanced, only second to Vietnam.

“Our engagement started 4 years ago when we approached non-commercial coffee farmers in the Chiapas region in southern Mexico, on the border with Guatemala,” says Micaela Bové , market development and communication manager in Yara Mexico. “Here, we work in partnerships with other stakeholders: Café California (Neumann Kaffe), Nestlé, and other mills, and we support the farmers through trainings, lectures and input on how to apply the most appropriate nutritional program for their crops” she explains. “In Mexico, Yara actively reaches out to – and engages with - smallholder farmers.”

“The growers we cooperate with are success examples of how their situation can improve for the better, while sustainably creating a larger profit for themselves,” says Enrique Marmol, Yara Mexico’s own coffee expert and crop Specialist. “Many growers would like to use our products, but they do not necessarily have the financial means or the knowledge on how to apply fertilizers correctly. That is why we want to include the whole value chain in our business approach to improve the commercial output,” Enrique explains.

Working with the coffee value chain

“Working in cooperation with our partners in the coffee value chain is an efficient way to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, “says Chrystel Monthean, Value Chain Director in Yara Downstream and responsible for the company’s coffee initiatives. “Some 70% of the world’s food crops are produced by smallholder farmers. These farmers often lack proper knowledge and finance. We need to address their concerns if we want to further grow our business.” she says.

“We are not only occupied with the big producers, we see a strong business opportunity in reaching out to smaller farms, who have a fantastic potential in a growing market place – this is the next Yara business challenge,” Micaela continues.

“Before engaging with our partners in Mexico, it was important to take into account the entire value chain,” Enrique underlines. “When some of the biggest soluble coffee producers are importing their beans from other countries while there are coffee plantations nearby, we strongly believe these beans should be sourced from local farmers. Therefore, we need to prove that productivity is tightly linked to farmer profitability, and we use our solutions as tools to demonstrate that Yara Mexico is part of the solution for those farmers,” Enrique concludes.

And now, enjoy your hot cup of coffee – happy International Coffee Day!