Olam teams up with John Lewis Partnership to inspire next generation of Colombia’s coffee farmers

COLOMBIA – Olam Coffee, Olam’s International division that specializes on the coffee value chain has partnered with John Lewis Partnership, Bewley’s Tea & Coffee and coffee cooperative ASOPEP to launch a new project in Colombia.

The four partners will establish a new laboratory and training centre designed to raise coffee quality and livelihoods for smallholder farmers in post-conflict zones in the south-west of Colombia.

The quality lab and education facilities will allow local growers to access training on organic and sustainable farming, good agricultural practices, new varieties and quality testing.

As part of the project, Olam’s coffee specialists will also deliver advanced post-harvest processing workshops, to introduce farmers to the latest techniques for producing higher grades.

Catalina González Sánchez, the Head of Sustainability and Differentiated Coffee for Olam in Colombia, noted that the collaboration marks an important milestone in ensuring that the business delivers values on sustainability throughout coffee the supply chain.

According to Sánchez, Olam Coffee is already working with 5,000 farmers in Colombia through existing sustainability programmes. He says that the company relies on collaboration to truly catalyse change.

“In the current climate of unpredictable weather and prices, it’s important to encourage and upskill growers to produce higher quality beans that qualify for specialty coffee markets, where prices are higher and more stable,” Sánchez said.

“We’re incredibly proud of this partnership with JLP and Bewley’s which will not only directly benefit 100 coffee farmers, but hundreds more in the local communities whose livelihoods also depend on coffee.”

The project, launched during Fairtrade fortnight, has been set up and jointly funded by Olam Coffee, in partnership with John Lewis Partnership, Bewley’s Tea & Coffee and ASOPEP.

Nykia Brain, Partner & Manager, Sustainability, John Lewis Partnership said: “We’re excited to be launching this programme in partnership with Olam Coffee, Bewleys UK and the Fairtrade Foundation UK to commemorate our move to 100% Fairtrade coffee across our John Lewis Partnership cafes.

“We hope that the planned laboratory and training centre will help inspire a new generation of coffee farmers and support the long term sustainability of the industry. We look forward to sharing the story with our customers.”

The partners noted that the ambitions of the project will be monitored through the social and environmental metrics of Olam’s sustainable sourcing platform AtSource, with training delivered and data captured by their team of field agronomists.

Over the next three years, the development of the lab and training centre is expected to benefit around 2000 members of coffee communities in Huila and Tolima, with training focussed particularly on women and the younger generation.

Coffee Programme Manager of Bewley’s UK, David Jameson said: “By supporting the community in Planadas in this way, we can help coffee farmers improve their yield and quality, and by doing so, help them to safeguard their income in the future.”

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