March 08, 2017
All smiles: Foreign Minister Børge Brende (right) and Ambassador Johan Vibe enjoy Yara Champion coffee prepared by expert baristas in Bogota.
Since winning the Yara Champion Program in 2016 the producers from Santander, Nariño and Cauca can report that knowing the true value of your coffee has a significant impact on farm profitability, a key factor for rural development and peace in Colombia.
The strong link between Colombia and Norway in coffee was not lost on the foreign minister: “Nearly 20 percent of the coffee drunk in Norway is from Colombia and only the Finns drink more coffee than the Norwegians,” Mr. Brende said as the cup tasting started.
Generating decent jobs in rural areas is a major challenge in Colombia, including in the coffee business. Low productivity, uneven quality and small farms are factors that prevent many farmers from earning a respectable living.
The Yara Champion Coffee Program was launched two years ago to address how balanced nutrition can impact both quality and productivity to boost incomes among Colombia’s 550,000 coffee farmers.
Yara competition boosts farmers' profits
“After organizing two competitions we can safely say that producing better coffee really pays off,” says Yara Colombia country manager José Leopoldo Gonzalez. “The finalists in the Yara Champion competition are now recognized as producing premium coffee, attracting buyers willing to pay several times more for their coffee than a bulk buyer would.”
Winner of the silver cup in the competition Javier de la Rosa explains: “Specialty coffee buyers now know me and my coffee. They pay up to six times the international market price for my beans thanks to the visibility gained through the competition.”
BU Latin America Manager Olaf Hektoen says Yara Champion complements Yara’s general approach:
“At Yara we aim to put the farmer at the center of everything we do. That means understanding her needs and collaborating with partners in the value chain to meet those needs. The reason for that is simple: Yara’s success depends on the success of the farmer. Only profitable farmers with sustainable practices will continue to put food on our tables and coffee in our cups. Yara proves its value by working with farmers so that they become - and stay – profitable.”
The 2016 winners Liliana Caballero, Javier de la Rosa and Cristian Zúñiga personify this approach and will now begin outreach activities to share their competence with other aspiring coffee farmers.
“What we have learnt from organizing the Yara Champion competition is that both smallholders and big farms are capable of producing excellent coffee. It is not the size of the farm that matters, it is the willingness of the farmer constantly to learn more in order to produce more and better coffee that makes the difference,” says Geoffrey Zambrano, marketing director at Yara Colombia.
Preparations are underway to expand the Yara Champion Program in Colombia later in 2017. The next crop up is potato.