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Ecuador exports its first container of ‘sustainable and deforestation-free’ coffee

Published on August 01, 2022

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The coffee, which is mixed Arabica and Robusta comes from more than 400 producers in the Amazon. The coffee was sent to the Italian company Lavazza.

Last Friday, July 29th, Ecuador exported its first container of sustainable Amazonian coffee, also labelled and with the mention of ‘free of deforestation.’

The container was shipped to the Italian company Lavazza. In total, 250 bags weighing 69 kilos each were sent, with a total weight of 17 tons.

The coffee, which is mixed Arabic and Robusta, comes from more than 400 producers of the Agroartisanal Association of Ecological Producers of Palanda and Chinchipe (Apecap) and the Agricultural Association of Organic Producers Cuencas del Río Mayo (Acrim), part of the six associations that make up the Regional Federation of Associations of Small Organic Coffee Growers of the South (Fapecafes), an organization created in 2022 and currently made up of more than 1,800 producers.

The other four associations affiliated with Fapecafes are: the Agro-artisanal Association of Ecological Producers of Specialty Coffee of the Loja canton (Apecael), the Agro-artisanal Association of Coffee Producers of Highland Puyango (Procap), the Association of Small Exporters of Specialty Coffee of Marcabelí ( Apecam) and the Espíndola and Quilanga High-Altitude Coffee Producers Association (Procafeq).

Roots of success go back more than a decade

Karina Barrera, Undersecretary for Climate Change of the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, said that this process began in 2009 when Ecuador began to structure a strategy to combat deforestation, compile data and incorporate indigenous peoples and nationalities to establish the REDD+ strategy (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation).

The country then began to use new financial mechanisms based on forest conservation, allowing it to access the Global Environmental Fund. It received $103 million from the fund to reduce and carry out practical solutions to combat deforestation.

“What we are doing today is not about a coffee container, what is behind it is much more than that, it is a strategy that the country has to fight against deforestation that includes improving the quality of life of more than 400 producers,” said Barrera.

She stressed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition also created the Comprehensive Amazon Program for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Production (Proamazonía), which in turn receives the support of the United Nations Program Nations for Development (UNDP), to promote sustainable and deforestation-free production at three points in the value chain: primary production, storage and marketing.

Barrera announced that work is being done to launch a program, through a ministerial agreement, that allows differentiating this type of sustainable production in Ecuadorian products. “At the moment, there is no other country that has had this advance of obtaining a deforestation-free label,” stressed Barrera.

Patricia Serrano, manager of Proamazonía, says that the program applies the REDD+ strategy to contribute to the reduction of Amazonian deforestation, not only in coffee crops, but also in palm, cocoa and livestock.

Regarding coffee production, Serrano specified that 34% of the total production is produced in the Amazon and that of this production, six of the seven Amazonian provinces have this crop in their territories. Of this production, 84% is produced in Sucumbíos, Orellana and Zamora Chinchipe.

“This is why we work with emphasis to make this production chain a sustainable chain under an environmental and economic approach,” said Serrano.

Lavazza relationship

Serrano said that this first export took place after the Lavazza company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture and Livestock in 2019, in which Ecuador was selected as a pilot country for the production of deforestation-free coffee.

As part of this process, in 2021, Lavazza and Proamazonía inaugurated a blended training program aimed at more than 50 producers from different organizations in the six Amazonian provinces.

The objective of this training was to strengthen the knowledge of producers on issues related to quality and marketing.

In addition, two collection centers (centers for Apecap and Acrim – post-harvest infrastructure) were upgraded with the aim of maintaining the quality of the coffee produced and improving its processing.

Harvey Merino, president of Apecap and member of the board of directors of Fapecafes, highlighted the work of Amazonian producers to achieve sustainable production and highlighted that 70% of the producers associated with Fapecafes come from Apecap and Acrim.

“I bring the message of my colleagues, the firm commitment to continue producing coffee in a sustainable way and free of deforestation, conserving the areas of primary forests that we have on our properties,” said the leader, who thanked the state for its support of the programs to promote sustainable production.

José Antonio Dávalos, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, called this first export as an “historic event.” He added that the producers achieved a balance of social, economic and environmental development, which has opened them up to new lines of credit.

“Recently, a line of credit was opened in BanEcuador for all these producers who are committed to this system,” said Dávalos, who hopes that after this first export, others will be made to Italy and other international destinations.

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