CQI Trains Cauca Coffee Producers In Good Processing Practices

This article appeared in CQI's 2018 Annual Report. Head here to read the report in its entirety.

The Producers to Markets Alliance (PMA) program from USAID seeks to strengthen legal economies in Colombia’s post-conflict areas, including those in the Cauca Department in the southwestern part of the country. As María Manuela Cunda, a coffee grower from Cauca’s Miranda municipality, puts it: “If you have coffee, you do not go around hiding scared.”

But it’s not enough for producers to simply grow coffee; to meet coffee buyers’ expectations, they also must understand post-harvest processing and how it impacts coffee flavor, and how desirable flavor attributes determine coffee quality that is linked to coffee’s value. Although many other factors influence coffee’s value, coffee produced using good practices has a higher probability to be sold at higher prices, has a longer storage life, and implies a lower food-safety risk than coffee produced using poor processing practices.

CQI’s objective in the Producers to Markets Alliance in Cauca, in partnership with Fintrac and Boot Coffee Consulting, is to develop a certification for washed coffee micro-processors—called the Micro-Processors Certificate—and to train coffee producers in the PMA program in good processing practices. These good practices are taught through a corps of technicians, certified as CQI Q Processing Professionals. Adoption of good practices will be verified by technicians, and PMA producers adopting the practices will receive a certificate issued by CQI, Boot Coffee Consulting, Fintrac, and TECNiCAFÉ. This will ensure a high adoption rate of good practices among PMA producers.

The Micro-Processors Certificate launched in 2018; we piloted the concept by training 13 technicians as Q Processing Professionals and extension trainers, with the goal of each technician training in turn eight groups of 20 PMA producers. Around 1,500 producers could be trained by mid-2019 using this system, and the adoption of good practices will be documented by the same technicians. The goal in 2019 is to certify 30 to 60 percent of the trained farmers in the Cauca region.

If the Micro-Processors Certificate succeeds in motivating producers to adopt good practices, it can then be implemented at a large scale for the PMA target population, and even adapted to other CQI projects. For now, we look forward to the positive impact this certificate could have in the coffee-growing region of Cauca.

Images captured under partnership with PMA.

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