Asia Pacific Coffee Forum: Continuing the Work in Coffee
Caramel, chocolate, spicy, nutty, winey, earthy and floral. Can you distinguish among the many flavour notes and aroma’s typical of different coffees from around the world?
Knowing coffee isn’t only for the connoisseur, but also for coffee farmers and everyone else in the coffee supply chain.
For farmers and workers, being able to identify the qualities and shortcomings of their coffee is important for improving the quality and ensuring happy traders. Given the current volatility in the coffee market, it is imperative that farmers and workers know what to do if a product does not meet requirements. Besides dealing with quality issues, farmers confront challenges associated with climate change, contract negotiations and a highly speculative market.
These issues and more were covered in presentations, group discussions and coffee cupping exercises at the first ever Fairtrade Asia Pacific Coffee Forum. Farmers also learned how to develop Fairtrade sales, build new markets and use their Fairtrade Premiums to encourage local development. Around 70 participants from all stages along the coffee supply chain took part in this Fairtrade International (FLO) organized event held in Medan, the capital of Sumatra, Indonesia, from the 12-14 November, 2011.
“The coffee market in Sumatra was very challenging in the past 12 months due to a 30% reduced crop caused by climate changes, as well as high and volatile market prices, which caused supply difficulties,” said Mustawalad, Chairman of the Fairtrade Indonesian Coffee Network. “With the help of this forum we are confident that we can build better working relationships between small producers, producer cooperatives and exporters to sustain supply through difficult periods.”
The participants, representative farmers and workers from Indonesia, East Timor, India, Laos, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam as well as importers, exporters, FLO staff, a representative of the Network of Asian Producers (NAP) and Fairtrade Switzerland, were joined by representatives of the Indonesian Government Ministry of Trade.
The Forum is part of FLO’s Coffee Action Plan, introduced in November 2010, aimed at addressing the prevailing challenges in the coffee industry. Other recent advances made on the Coffee Action Plan, include:
Risk Management and Contract Negotiation Workshops conducted in Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala.
Fairtrade Contract Pricing - An explanatory document will be available shortly on how the Fairtrade coffee price is calculated and how local price differentials affect the Fairtrade market reference price. We are also working on Fairtrade coffee contract templates in early 2012 to help bring better clarity and transparency to contract agreements.
Coffee Help Desk – A free service available to Fairtrade producers and traders working with independent coffee experts, the service, firstname.lastname@example.org is up and running with initial mediation between producers and traders proven to be successful.
Back at the Asia Pacific Coffee Forum, once the coffee cups were cleared, presentations given and new business connections made it was back to work as Fairtrade continues its efforts with producers and traders to ensure stable, long-term relationships that benefit everyone in the system.