There has been a lot of discussion about how Covid-19 has affected the consumer end of the supply chain through café closures and decreased sales. However, there has been significantly less discussion about the impact the coronavirus has had in producing countries.
Prior to the pandemic, many producers were already dealing with the long-term consequences of previous crises (including the coffee leaf rust epidemic and the low price crisis of 2014, among others).
In the Virtual Coffee Dialogues series, Juan Humberto Davila of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC) emphasised that by working together, the FNC and the Colombian government were able to clearly communicate new measures to coffee producers using characters and symbols that were already familiar to many producers.
In many cases, collaboration between national governments and other organisations has made a quick response to Covid-19 possible. Andrés Montenegro is the Program Director of Verité’s COFFEE Project. He noted that the stronger the organisations involved are, the faster and more effective the response can be.
“[Organisations] are moving fast to identify biosecurity protocols that can be effectively disseminated [among coffee producers],” Andrés said. “They are also bringing together local and regional governments, and promoting effective mitigation measures as well as providing support services.”
And while many organisations are focused on mitigating the impact of the pandemic, others are using it as an opportunity to launch new projects and initiatives. Víctor Sarabia represents Exporting Andes and Amazon Agency in Peru. He said that the pandemic had provided the coffee sector with the opportunity to unite. “[For example, we created] an integrated virtual platform that supports national and regional coffee events organised throughout the second half of 2020,” he said.