A cup of fair-trade organic coffee a day changes producer’s lives!
Organic agriculture practices are part of agriculture systems in Nepal from time immemorial. Coffee, an exotic crop, however, quite suitable to soil and climate of Nepal has been able to generate curiosity, enthusiasm and sustainable income for the smallholders within a decade. Efforts and initiatives of the Coffee Promotion Program (CoPP) of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, on capacity building of the smallholders on production, processing, marketing and institutional development has made organic coffee a sustainable income generating crop. Moreover, for over a decade ago it would be strange talking about promoting organic coffee in the mainstream agricultural policy deliberations and forum. Nevertheless, CoPP has been able to mainstreaming coffee at the policy level having its recognition as a high value export potential crop.
CoPP now actively supports smallholders through their cooperatives and associations producing high quality specialty organic coffee (in an altitude range of 800 to 1600 m.) in the mid hills of central and western Nepal. Coffee growing is quite compatible with the existing agricultural system while enhancing food security from the additional income derived from certified organic coffee sales. “Life was difficult particularly to cope with the ever increasing family expenses before the good income from sale of coffee” says Sabitri Jamakatel from Thula Durlung – a smallholder in remote village south of Kathmandu valley.
Specialty organic coffee is now sold in local urban markets and is exported to fair trade markets abroad. Now more and more farmers are associated in the organic coffee cooperatives because of increasing demand at domestic and international level. With hard working farmers in the background, Nepal’s organic coffee has a bright future for the benefit of both producers and the country itself; however, challenges still lie to expand this economic opportunity in other potential districts.