Sustainable cocoa and coffee

Ecuadorian coffee - adding flavour to the national economy

March 15, 2023

Coffee has a long-standing history in Latin America, yet Ecuador has only recently begun commercialising and promoting coffee production nationally and to branch out to the international market. 46,000 Ecuadorian producers depend on coffee, yet not all of them have the capacity to offer specialty coffee to the market. They lack training on adequate production and post-harvest methods. This challenge is compounded by the low level of associativity in the sector: only 19% of producers belong to organisations. We focus on the professionalisation of three coffee producing organisations, AACRI, AAPROCNOP and RAPCI.

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Imbabura, Pichincha, Carchi

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488 coffee farmers and their families

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Ecuadorian farmers' organisations have a lot of potential of specialty coffee-production but certain challenges prevent them from thriving.

  • Poor post-harvest handling, impacting the transformation of cherry coffee into dry parchment coffee, exportable gold coffee (also called green coffee, without pulp, mucilage or parchment), and roasted and ground coffee. This weakens Ecuador's position as a specialty coffee-producing country, and its ranking worldwide.
  • Weak organisational structures that affect the professionalisation of organisations.
  • Low participation and integration of young people in the organisation.
  • Lack of activities that are resilient to climate change that allow crops to be preserved.
In Ecuador, high production costs make coffee a less attractive crop to grow.

Our approach

We support coffee producing organisations, AACRI, AAPROCNOP, RAPCI and Redcafc. Our work focuses on the professionalisation of organisations, integrating them into the market thanks to their quality coffee and providing them with sustainability opportunities by integrating young people into their activities. All the actions are aimed at strengthening farmers and their families. Concretely:

  • We support the improvement of the business and social performance of coffee producer organisations, working on their professionalisation and incorporating young people and women into the business.
  • We contribute to an enabling environment that fosters inclusiveness and sustainability for their competitiveness in the agri-food sector.
  • We promote the business sector's awareness of the benefits of buying from professionalised organisations, in line with social and climate change challenges.
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Productivity, quality and resilience to climate change in the coffee chain

  • Coffee enterprises that care for the environment: In Intag, Aacri raises awareness among associated families (18) and community members (138 women, 113 men) about productive alternatives to promote coffee-based enterprises and thus tackle the problem of illegal mining activity in the region.
  • Promotion of GAP certification: From 2019 to 2020, support was given to 20 coffee farms in Pichincha (Aaprocnop) in the process prior to certification, providing support for carrying out surveys (with young people from the organisations themselves), and financing to prepare the farms for their certification in Good Agricultural Practices.
  • Support for farm certification: The programme provided partner organisations with materials needed to certify farms with Good Agricultural Practices, a requirement for exporting coffee to the European Union. During the pandemic in 2020, Aacri's organic producers received first aid kits, farm signage kits, registers, equipment maintenance and farm installations.
  • Response to the Covid-19 crisis: The programme provided equipment and inputs to 488 producers and families (120 in Imbabura, 168 in Pichincha, 200 in Intag) for use in farms and homes. We also foresaw training for 268 producers and association staff on harvest and post-harvest issues on farms, with emphasis on new measures in the framework of the Covid-19 sanitary emergency.
  • Agroforestry systems against climate change: we trained 18 members of AAPROCNOP to plant 5,000 eucalyptus tree seedlings on farms. We also worked on awareness-raising among producers around the importance of soil health and resilient farms.
  • Women entrepreneurs: In Intag, we supported AACRI to empower 35 women with leadership courses, the elaboration of cabuya bags (in which coffee produced by women is sold on the local market), and the preparation of coffee-based beverages and complementary cafeteria food.
  • Improved cup quality: Thanks to the implementation of good agricultural practices, organisations such as RAPCIC and AAPROCNOP went from an average of 82 (2017) to 87.5 cup points, expanding their commercial possibilities.

Inclusive and sustainable business in the procurement of quality coffee

  • Promotion of new trade relations: Exporters such as Makicuna (specialised in coffee from Ecuador), promoted AAPROCNOP's coffee with various European buyers. This led to the first purchase of micro-lots from AAPROCNOP, as a result of efforts such as cupping and sending samples, to bring producer organisations closer to new clients abroad.
  • Young coffee cuppers evaluate coffees from the associations: Young people from AACRI, AAPROCNOP and RAPCIC were in charge of the selection, classification and recommendations to improve the association's quality coffees and evaluate their price on the market.

Actors in the coffee sector in Latin America promote regulations, models and public policies that recognise and encourage the development of the sector

  • Support for the creation of the UNCAFÉ guild: This initiative's mission is to support the modernisation of coffee growing, the consolidation of models such as cooperatives, the creation of alliances with the business sector, and the promotion of domestic consumption, among others. It has members from the main coffee-growing provinces of Ecuador: Manabí, Loja, Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe, Pichincha, Imbabura and Carchi. In 2021, the union elected a board of directors and completed its registration in the MAG registry.
  • Support for the creation of the Imbabura-Carchi Interprovincial Network: its main purpose is to represent and defend the interests and incentives aimed at coffee cultivation, production and marketing, as well as to represent and defend its affiliates before public and private bodies, collaborate in the resolution of their conflicts and provide training, advice and technical and associative assistance, work with bodies linked to the National Government, Ministry of Agriculture, sectional and local governments, and national and international organisations linked to the coffee production chain.

Who do we work with?

Our partners and allies

  • 4 cooperatives: Asociación agroartesanal de caficultores "Río Intag" (Aacri), Red asociativa de productores de café de Imbabura y Carchi (Rapcic), Asociación artesanal de productores y comercializadores de café del noroccidente de Pichincha (Aaprocnop), Red de integración económica de caficultores del Carchi (Redcafc)
  • Public partners: Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries; ProAmazonia
  • International Cooperation: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Non-governmental organisations: Cospe
  • Companies and associations: Makicuna, Minerva, Vélez, Cafecom
  • Trade unions: Anecafé
Fondo Ítalo Ecuatoriano para el Desarrollo Sostenible (FIEDS)


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