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Honduras and Nicaragua learn from Colombia’s Sustainable Trading Platform

For the first time, Global Coffee Platform (GCP), Rainforest Alliance/UTZ and Solidaridad have organised exchange experiences of national platforms with participants from Nicaragua, Honduras and Colombia.

Attendees from these origin countries shared their contexts and challenges in creating successful and multi-actor spaces in sustainable coffee production, which took place from 17 to 19 July in Bogota. The main challenges identified where price instability, climate change, lack of new generation engagement, lack of labour force, low profitability, and lack of resilience of coffee families.

Aura Lila Sevilla Kuan, Executive Committee Coordinator of the Nicaraguan Sustainable Coffee Platform (NICAFE’s) and President of the Alliance of Nicaraguan Coffee Growers (ANCN) says the experience was inspiring.

“Despite the weaknesses in terms of institutions, governance, and organisational aspects internally, it is very positive that we are advancing in the process, especially learning from other countries with stronger institutions and organisations in the sector,” Kuan says.

According to media reports, Nicaragua’s political unrest has been extended for nearly three months, affecting all activities in the country including exports of agricultural products and tourism. The Central Bank estimates a loss of $230 million of foreign exchange income.

Learning how to build stronger institutions through NICAFE’s, a multi-stakeholder platform in Nicaragua that launched in November 2017, has been of special interest to the coffee sector in this country. During 2016/2017, Nicaragua’s exported 2.29 million, 60-kilogram bags of coffee, which represented US$486,435,028 income of foreign exchange.

Fausto Rodríguez, Co-director of Rikolto in Centro America, an international non-government organisation which has supported NICAFE’s initiative, expressed that the need for more "collective efforts and actions among platforms in the region was positively highlighted by the representatives”, as was strengthening coffee organisations in competitiveness, building capacities and collaboration with other countries.

For Juan Francisco Martínez, Representative of Rainforest Alliance in Nicaragua and Coordinator of the Sector Partnership Program in Central America, the sum of collective efforts guarantees learning in the development of platforms nationwide.

Now, members of each country need to adapt these experiences to their own contexts. "The challenge is to identify the existing gaps to create and facilitate a sustainable system with public and private collaboration, where all the actors of the value chain are represented," Martínez says.

The Honduran delegation was integrated by the National Coffee Commission, AHPROCAFÉ, COHONDUCAFÉ, CODEXA, CHPP, and government and private organisations interested in building the national platform to create greater impact.

Rubén Gallozzi, Representative of Rainforest Alliance/UTZ in Honduras, an international non-profit organization and certification program, says that despite taking five years to consolidate the Colombian platform, more members are joining as they see the benefits.

“It is important to be clear about the purpose of its creation and what topics it will cover as the main objective is to produce sustainable coffee for demanding buyers,” Gallozzi says.

Organisations in the Colombian coffee sector including Ángela Peláez from RGC Coffee, Daniel Ardila from CARCAFE, Mauricio Galindo from Rainforest Alliance/UTZ Colombia, and, Gustavo Gómez from ASOEXPORT, also shared with the delegations about the initiatives in sustainability that promote or finance coffee.

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