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  • Made up of 123 small coffee growers, this association of Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, promotes the improvement of the living conditions of producers thanks to a community wet mill, opened in 2017.
  • The award seeks to identify, recognize and make visible sustainable business experiences that provide economic opportunities to people or territories affected by violence and thus contribute to the construction of peace in Colombia.

Bogotá, September 10, 2019 (FNC Press Office) – The association of high-quality coffee producers “Cuchilla del San Juan,” of Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, received the Emprender Paz Award on Tuesday night.

This association, made up of 123 small coffee growers, promotes the improvement of the living conditions of its members thanks to a community wet mill, opened in 2017, whose shareholders are the producers themselves.

“We are very happy with this important recognition to our association and to all coffee farming in Colombia. And very grateful to the FNC, which has been our commercial ally,” said Miguel Fernando García, the representative of the association.

The Emprender Paz Award is an initiative that seeks to identify, recognize and make visible sustainable business experiences that provide economic opportunities to people or territories affected by violence and thus contribute to construction of peace in Colombia.

Among the finalists of the current edition of the award, to which 124 organizations (84% of them micro and small) in the agricultural, agribusiness, services, industrial and extractive sectors were nominated, are important companies such as Luker and the Wok restaurant chain.

The other three companies or initiatives that won the award in its 2019 edition were Agricapital, from Medellín; Palmiagro, from Tibú (Norte de Santander) and Mundo Maderas, from Yumbo (Valle del Cauca).

The recognition is awarded based on clearly defined evaluation criteria such as sustainability (35%), impact (35%), replicability (10%), company involvement (15%) and added value (5%, which includes empowerment of women, articulation of actors and innovation).

The four winning initiatives stood out for being sustainable, committed to the reconstruction of the social fabric, and the economic inclusion of populations affected by violence, according to the organizers.

Community infrastructure at the service of producers

Cherry coffee is purchased daily at the association’s headquarters for wet milling (a process that before had to be carried out by each producer), a model that allows standardizing the quality of coffee, minimizing wastewater, paying producers for coffee weekly, and improving their life conditions.

The wet mill, which saves producers up to 10% of production costs per hectare and optimizes coffee quality, takes advantage of the developments of the National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé) in terms of clean technologies, as is the case of the Ecomill® equipment.

As one of the first fully ecological wet mills in the country, Belén de Umbría became a model towards the sustainability of coffee growing in other departments.

The association sells coffee to the FNC and other customers such as RGC Coffee of Canada.

Of the 123 members of the association, 90% are small producers and 30% are women, of which one group works with the pulp and mucilage of coffee to make organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

An award that helps build peace

The Emprender Paz Award recognizes experiences of business development and strengthening that benefit the company and its value chain and, in turn, promote the inclusion of people affected by violence.

These initiatives must be aimed at providing concrete solutions to improve the conditions of populations and territories that have been historically excluded due to violence.

A population affected by violence is that which is or has been the victim of illegal armed groups or in a situation of vulnerability due to the actions of these groups, such as displaced persons, ex-combatants, communities that have replaced illegal crops, widows of combatants, victims of landmines and people at risk of forced recruitment.

“We suffered a lot with the armed conflict. On the one hand, we had the paramilitaries and, on the other, the guerrillas; that is why the association is a resilience in the face of what was the conflict and the violence that existed,” García notes.

The Emprender Paz Award is carried out under the leadership of the Grupo Social Foundation through the Emprender Paz Corporation, and is supported by the Swedish Embassy and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.