In 1927, the Colombian coffee growers organized themselves to create an institution that would represent them both nationally and internationally; allowing them to defend their rights and seek ways to improve their quality of life. Since then, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) has become one of the largest rural NGOs in the world.
Democratic institution: Democracy is the foundation of the FNC. Only coffee growers elected by their peers can claim to represent producers and make decisions on their behalf. This allows the FNC to represent coffee growers, develop common policies, sustainability projects and even promotional campaigns. The National Congress of Coffee Growers is its highest deliberative body. Every four years, elections are held to elect representatives from all coffee regions in the country. In 2014, the participation in coffee elections was amongst the highest in the world, surpassing 67%.
THE COLOMBIAN COFFEE LANDSCAPE STATISTICS
• The coffee area spans 3.3 million hectares of which 931,000 are planted with coffee
• There are 590 coffee-growing communities in 22 (out of 32) provinces
• 96% of coffee growers produce coffee in small-size (less than five hectares), family-run farms that account for 69% of total production of Colombian coffee
• Coffee represents 17% Agricultural GDP
• 33% of rural population in Colombia grows coffee
• Coffee industry creates 807,000 direct employment opportunities
During the last 88 years, the FNC has consolidated an important number of services that transfer greater value to the coffee sector and the country.
Below are some examples:
Ensures that the FNC will offer all coffee growers the possibility of purchasing their crop every day at a market price, enhancing the negotiation power of individual producers with domestic buyers in Colombia ́s 590 coffee growing communities. This is the public service coffee growers appreciate the most.
The FNC ́s National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé) has frequently been referred to as the NASA of the coffee sector for its extensive contributions to the development of coffee science in a variety of disciplines. Cenicafé has developed innovative technologies to increase productivity, competitiveness, sustainability and profitability and, in turn, contribute to the well-being of Colombian coffee growers.
The FNC’s plant renovation program has become a reference and case study on how institutions can achieve positive change to overcome climate change induced difficulties and coffee leaf rust epidemics. Colombia ́s dramatic improvement in average productivity and harvest size in recent years is one of the most important collective FNC achievements that has greatly contributed to the process of transforming the productive structure of Colombia’s coffee industry. Over the past few years, the FNC has focused on coffee crop renovation with coffee leaf rust resistant varieties that are better adapted to climate change. 3.3 billion trees have been renewed throughout the country.
More than 1,500 technicians are in charge of assisting growers in their work and transferring the knowledge generated by Cenicafé to these growers. Through the FNC ́s Extension Service, technicians provide support to
producers to ensure quality and the use of the best productive
practices, as well as the implementation of business management, technology transfer, specialty coffee, and credit programs. The FNC’s extension service is the largest and top rated by MEAS (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services) of its kind in the world.
Since 1927, the FNC has been promoting Colombian Coffee to the world; since 1981, a trademark-based “Ingredient brand” strategy was developed based on its positive reputation. The FNC has played a pivotal role in promoting and defending Café de Colombia’s origin and reputation. The initiatives developed to certify Café de Colombia as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are an example of such efforts.
PGIs are legal instruments that guarantee the origin and quality of certain products. Depending on where the instrument is implemented, a PGI can be a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) or a Certification Mark. Colombia is now the coffee producing country with the highest number of PDOs: Cauca, Nariño, Huila and Santander.
Contribution to peace
Coffee has undoubtedly been a social and economic stabilizing factor that has significantly contributed to the pacification of Colombia’s coffee region. The FNC has been a key actor in the delivery of development standard of living and the social stability of many coffee-growing regions, which today are the most prosperous and least violent areas of rural Colombia.
Using a number of technologies, including NIRS (Near InfraRed Spectroscopy), the FNC has developed systems to ensure the provenance of Colombian coffees, including its different terroirs or Denominations of Origin. Through this system, Colombian coffees are now checked before shipment to ensure they are indeed Colombian, strengthening the product support and the ability to understand the quality differences of Colombian coffees. This effort has been the result of years of work of building large databases and chimiometric models; and it is now being replicated in other countries.
436,000 coffee growers have financial access through the Smart Coffee ID Card. Approximately 310,000 growers are now part of financial inclusion programs and now have savings accounts as a result of this initiative.
40,000 students participate each year in a Coffee School across more than 300 educational institutions located in the coffee growing regions in Colombia.
Promotion and Advertising of Colombian coffee
With the objective of strengthening the preference for Café de Colombia and support of 100% Colombian coffee brands, the FNC recently launched a digital campaign called the Bean Bang Theory this past February. The campaign targets millennials and aims to educate them on Colombian coffee, encouraging them to #mindthebean. www.thebeanbangtheory.com
How this anniversary will be celebrated in Colombia
The anniversary of FNC coincides with Colombia ́s National Coffee Day, which is celebrated throughout the coffee regions to commemorate the creation of the Federation and its role in the development of the coffee industry in Colombia. Celebrations include coffee tastings, cultural activities, informative sessions about different coffee origins and its attributes, among others. The idea is to pay tribute to hundreds of coffee growers for their work and dedication.