ED&F Man’s CSR strategy in action in Colombia

ED&F Man’s CSR strategy in action in Colombia

Through our many corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, ED&F Man is reassuring customers, suppliers and employees of our commitment to improving.

the environment and wellbeing of local communities.

Carcafé (Volcafe’s business in Colombia) – working in partnership with well-known coffee clients such as Lavazza, Tchibo, McDonalds and S&D – is helping.

farmers implement environmental and social measures that will make a significant improvement to the way they live and work.

These projects are being run by a team of more than 22 field engineers who spend many weeks at a time working hard in remote locations. Carcafé’s CSR Coordinator Vivian Vasquez and Sustainability Coordinator Carlos Palacios are managing the projects.

Many small coffee farmers struggle with poverty, with nearly all their time and resources dedicated to earning money to cover basic costs. “For these farmers, short-term survival is the main priority, so long-term environmental protection is not an issue that has concerned them,” says Vivian.

Farms often lack effective sewage systems and chemicals are not stored safely, posing a hazard both to the farm workers and the surrounding land. Many

farmers are unaware of the need to adapt to climate change or apply modern conservation methods, such as soil preservation techniques. As a result, some coffee-growing regions show evidence of decades of neglect.

Tackling this deprivation and environmental damage will benefit all parties, as Vivian explains: “By supporting the ecosystem in which the coffee is grown, developing a sustainable future for the farms with improved coffee processing infrastructure, and improving the farming families’ health and wellbeing, we aim to secure a sustainable future for the coffee growing communities and ED&F Man’s trade with them for years to come.”

Three parts of the country in particular are experiencing significant progress in addressing these objectives: the Piedemonte Llanero region near the Amazonian rainforest, the coffee-growing municipalities of Nariño and the south-eastern department of Antioquia.

Here are just some of the schemes that are taking place:

  • We are showing coffee growers how to manage their farms on a more holistic level. By considering everything from water sources to building maintenance, they can optimise decision-making on key matters, such as planning product volume and calculating fertilising times.
  • We are issuing protective clothing to farmers for use with agrochemical products. We have also arranged training on the safe use of chemicals and instructions on how to construct showers with special filters that prevent contamination of the surrounding soil.
  • Engineers have installed plumbing to carry wastewater away from showers, bathrooms and kitchens to treatment systems where the polluting elements are removed, mixed with organic waste and converted into compost. Before this, the dirty water simply soaked straight into the soil.
  • Coffee beans, previously washed in buckets, are now cleaned in special tanks. The wastewater that once contaminated rivers, fields and natural water sources now runs into new septic tanks.

The partnership with Lavazza and coffee growers in the Piedemonte Llanero region has been in operation since November 2015. With another year still to run, Carcafé is working hard to ensure the project delivers a significant and permanent transformation to the farmers’ lives and the environment in which they live and work.