Soil, temperature and sunlight have a major effect on how well the sensitive plants thrive. As the coffee farmers cannot influence the environmental conditions, they have to apply their skills to get the best from their plants. The training courses teach them how far apart to set the coffee plants to give them the right amount of space and sunlight and how to fertilise and harvest efficiently.
UTZ-certified coffee is already being produced by 150 of our growers. This number is expected to reach 300 by 2021.. As part of the UTZ certification process, we help growers to increase their productivity and encourage sustainable coffee farming. Or in other words: taking both people and nature into account is very important for us. Oswaldo has recently started growing UTZ-certified coffee. He has made it his personal target to use more effective coffee-harvesting and processing practices and, by doing so, make sustainable improvements in the quality of his coffee. Since becoming certified, he has been working with a growing calendar and documenting when to carry out each activity.
Coffee farming is about more than just growing the plants. Coffee growers must focus on efficient farm management. Training courses help them to learn how to keep accurate control of income and expenditure. Agronomic knowledge, such as the right way to fertilise, to prune the branches or to harvest, is also on the curriculum. And last but not least, they learn how to cut the weeds using a machete.
Every step of the production process affects the coffee’s quality, including harvesting. Unripe cherries negatively influence the coffee’s flavour profile. So the ripe cherries are only picked by hand in La Laguna. Since the cherries do not all ripen at the same time, the picking takes places in several stages. Hand-picking takes a lot of time and effort but pays off in the quality of the coffee.
Theoretical knowledge is all well and good but having a real example helps when putting it into practice. That is why model farms have been set up together with some farmers. These provide demonstrations of the best ways to cultivate the coffee and what methods work best in practice. This turns theory into tangible reality and helps the farmers to get to grips with it. Copycats encouraged!