Sustainable Coffee in Colombia: Challenges Beyond Prices

In recent years, Colombia has made major advances in implementing the Voluntary Sustainability Standards as a means for achieving sustainable coffee production. At present, between 60 and 70% of the coffee produced in the country is certified or verified by one or more VSS, totaling over 9.5 million bags (60 kgs).

Between 2014 and 2017, sales of VSS compliant coffee have increased from 19% to 28%. Despite this positive development, there is still a significant gap between coffee produced under VSS and the coffee sold under VSS. This report published by Solidaridad, the facilitator of the Sustainable Trade Platform in Colombia, provides an analysis of the current state of sustainable coffee production.  Country Manager Joel Brounen: “In the current context of low prices and fierce competition, the coffee chain in Colombia must continue to work on the incorporation of sustainable practices to enhance the long-term competitiveness of coffee growers.” 

The report highlights the local trends in sustainability standards and corporate programmes. It also reflects on the lessons learned from more than a decade of interventions. “On-farm investments have more impact when made from a cost-benefit approach rather than from a standard-compliance approach”, adds Brounen, “The scale of the current sustainability challenges requires much more sector collaboration and investments if we want to scale the results to the underserved coffee producers”.

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