Perhaps the main difference between a smallholder farm and larger industrial enterprise is the difference between the concept of livelihood, and that of business.
In the case of the small farmer, the land is not only their main source of income, it is also their home, their security and the future for their children. Most smallholder farmers live on their land, and depend on it to provide them with food, water, and firewood. Any damage to the living environment not only impacts their income, it can affect their health and day to day life.
It is not uncommon on smallholdings for farmers to name the trees individually, as if they were children, or pets. It is usual practice to plant tall shade trees at regular intervals around the farm to protect the coffee trees from the tropical sun, use the fallen leaves as organic fertiliser and to provide fruit and firewood for the family. Some farmers notice which trees the birds seem to prefer and plant them especially to create a sanctuary for them.
Without access to irrigation systems or expensive pesticides, the natural ecosystem must be maintained to ensure the health of the plants, and therefore the income of the farmer Being so reliant on their land, farmers quickly learn how encouraging wildlife creates cross-pollination and natural fetiliser, how keeping a clean water source prevents trees wilting through contamination and encourages fish to thrive – an important source of protein in rural areas.
Cafédirect buys extremely high quality raw materials for all our products. It is not possible to produce a high quality product on a farm that is not cared for. Coffee is a demanding crop. It must be pruned at just the right time, fertilised regularly and protected from the hot glare of the sun. Only the juiciest red cherries must be picked – the smaller unripe cherries will not be accepted by the cooperative and the farmer will not be paid for them. Therefore the cherries are picked from the branches by hand, by the farmers themselves, their families and neighbours. Only with a high level of care and attention and the best farming techniques and most sustainable farming techniques, will the coffee produced be of a good quality. And the higher the quality coffee, the higher price they will receive for it, so it’s a win – win situation.
Put simply it’s coffee ‘Made the Small Way’. And our new TV ad is celebrating just that – watch it here!