A win-win-win for consumers, farmers and the environment

In my last post I wrote about my visit to Honduras where I met independent smallholders preparing to join Fair Trade.  One of the farmers, Faustino, told me how preparing for Fair Trade helped him and his community to save water and reduce pollution, while improving the quality of coffee.

As Faustino mentions in the video, farmers in this group recently began processing coffee cherries in a central facility instead of each farmer processing cherries at home.  The benefits of this: less pollution and more drinking water for the community, and better quality of coffee.  Farmers are no longer using the potable water from the town; rather they are using non-potable water from the river.  In addition, they are now treating and filtering the ‘honey water’ (leftover water from the process) so this water does not pollute the river.

This practice has a direct effect in the quality of coffee. Before, each farmer processed the coffee separately and sold the coffee as ‘wet parchment’ (unfinished processed coffee with high content of water that makes it more prone to fermentation and negative changes in quality).  This is still a common practice for many farmers in Honduras.  By processing the coffee together, the farmers have more control and uniformity on the quality of the coffee. They can also collaborate drying the coffee together to significantly reduce the risk of over-fermentation.  The better the quality of the coffee, the more money farmers will receive for that coffee.

Faustino, sitting at the top of the central processing facility farmers built to reduce water consumption and pollution and improve the quality of the coffee.

Faustino, sitting at the top of the central processing facility that farmers built to reduce water consumption & pollution and improve the quality of coffee.

Faustino and his fellow farmers are an example of how meeting Fair Trade standards can help farmers produce better quality coffee, at the same time that they protect the environment and improve their communities.  In this case, this means better coffee for consumers, more money for farmers, more water for farming communities and less pollution for the environment.

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