AMEA and Rikolto -The tools exist: it's time to share them

AMEA and Rikolto -The tools exist: it's time to share them

03/04/2020
in News
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Farmers have a lot of valuable experience in coffee-growing. However, now they look to us to support them in improving their production says Ediño Ojeda, a 29-year-old member and technician in the Peruvian cooperative La Prosperidad de Chirinos. His job as a technical inspector is one of the services the cooperative offers its members and helps families earn 20% more income annually from selling more and better specialty coffee.

"I joined the cooperative because of my parents, even though they didn't want me to," he explains, remembering how a few years ago being a coffee farmer was synonymous with poverty in the area.

Opportunities for young people were scarce in rural areas, but while he was finishing his studies at the local high school, La Prosperidad recruited him and other young sons of members to work in new professional areas of the business. There, he had the opportunity to undertake internships, lead new product lines, head a committee, and be a member of the School of Leaders.

Ediño's career path in La Prosperidad is part of the cooperative's strategy to work together with the sons of the members to make the business sustainable. Consequently, the commercial venture will continue to be in the hands of talented young people.

There are three converging challenges, with enormous impact on the business and the future of coffee-growing families:

  1. increase the production of quality coffee under international standards;
  2. expand technical assistance services for its associates;
  3. make the business sustainable by recruiting, training and building the loyalty of new young leaders.

With the support of Rikolto, in a period of three years, cooperatives like La Prosperidad de Chirinos can now negotiate more effectively with banks to reduce interest rates on agricultural loans (from 11% to 9%), increase their annual turnover thanks to their exports (40% since the beginning of the program), reinvest part of their profits in the area of services to members ($380,000 in 2018), and increase their assets by 28% as a result of a greater capacity to generate flows.

For associate producers, belonging to a professional organisation means obtaining better prices for their coffee, access to diverse services (technical and financial assistance, scholarships, credits), as well as profits at the end of the year.

Organised and professional farmers -a win-win situation!

The professionalisation of farmer organisations is an objective shared by the members of AMEA (Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance). Rikolto is one of the founding members.

AMEA is an alliance based on the belief that this change will only happen when all the interested parties have a shared understanding and speak the same language. One of AMEA's latest projects has been the development of the ISO document:the International Workshop Agreement (IWA). Following a global consultation, the document now lists the shared characteristics of a professional farmer organisation,and can easily be applied in different value chains anywhere in the world.

The idea behind the guidelines (ISO/IWA) is not to certify the performance of farmer organisations but instead to increase the understanding and confidence of the buyers and investors who do business with these organisations."

Filipe Di Matteo Amea Programme Officer

Dissemination of the ISO/IWA

The guidelines were published in 2019 and were approved in over 51 countries, with Rikolto taking part in the approval process. IWA 29 is available in the ISO catalogue in French and English.

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Sowing local networks

The organisations that took part in this process are interested in the guidelines becoming ISO standards in their respective countries. Consequently, with the support of AMEA members, such as ACDI/VOCA, Rainforest Alliance, Technoserve and Heifer, Rikolto is spearheading a pledge to launch a public consultation to make it happen in Honduras, and is jointly arranging workshops to create and strengthen local networks in this country and Peru.

The IWA 29 document has been translated into Spanish (unofficial translation) by the National Quality Institute in Peru, a close ally of Rikolto’s intervention, and advocacy will soon be undertaken to get the guidelines adopted in the country.

Next steps

In Honduras, a public consultation will be run in order to make the guidelines into an ISO standard. In Peru, the IWA 29 document has been translated into Spanish (unofficial translation) and advocacy will soon be undertaken to get the guidelines adopted in the country.

Building a local network is important as it enables partners to share good practice and strategies, join forces to advocate, and have a greater impact.Together we identify gaps in order to promote the professionalisation of organisations and we mark out the route so that any initiative can drive forward or become involved in this process

Mariela Wismann Rikolto's Coffee Programme Director for Latin America

"Enjoying the supporting of major organisations from the public and private sectors, and from academia, is a promising start. The aim is to have a broad-based, participatory and inclusive consultation," added Napoleón Molina, Rikolto's business development services coordinator in Latin America.

Additionally, in these sessions various contributions to the revision of ISO/IWA 29 were exchanged. These guidelines will lay the foundations for an international comprehensive professionalisation standard to help farmer organisations.

At Rikolto, we firmly believe that more professional organisations that help young people like Ediño to identify solutions and opportunities in rural areas are needed. What about you?

In Honduras, the workshop took place on 4 February with the participation of representatives of the agricultural sector, including the National Federation of Farmers and Stockbreeders of Honduras (FENAGH), Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School, National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), Heifer, La Colonia Supermarkets, the Cadelga Group, Rainforest Alliance, World Vision, and others.

Meanwhile in Peru the workshop was held on 27 January, with the participation of Rikolto partner organisations such as the National Coffee Committee (Junta Nacional del Café), Peruvian Association of Cocoa Producers (APPCACAO), La Prosperidad Co-operative from Chirinos, Pangoa Co-operative, Aprocassi Co-operative, the Coffee and Cocoa Association (Cámara de Café y Cacao); international cooperation organisations such as UNIDO, NCBA CLUSA, USDA, Peru's National Fair Trade Network (CNCJ - Perú), Bioversity; and representatives of initiatives such as the Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) Project, and the Regional Technical Coffee Committee (Comisión Técnica de Regional del Café - Cajamarca), and others.

Do you want to know more? Reach out our colleague:

Napoleón Molina
Napoleón Molina
Coordinador de proyectos | Honduras