Union is a Relationship - Part 3

First Published - June 15, 2011 (By Steven, Co-Founder) 

In my last blog post about Union Direct Trade I exlplained how we’ve developed a research project to examine the impact of our approach to coffee sourcing on the lives of coffee producers and on the quality of the coffee they grow. I can now let Pascale who is undertaking this research out in the field introduce herself and explain her thoughts when she arrived in Central America.

                ¡Hola!

 I am happy to introduce myself to all Union Hand Roasted Coffee Lovers. My name is Pascale Schuit, 24 years old. Currently I live in Huehuetenango, Guatemala but my home is in the Netherlands. I have finished my Bachelor and Master International Development Studies with the specialization rural economics (at Wageningen University, The Netherlands). After five years of formal education on development economics and sociology and previous field experience in Costa Rica with (coffee) farmers I am now going to work in Guatemala and Costa Rica for Union Hand Roasted.

                                  Steven, Don Nasario & Pascale – Tierra Altos, La Libertad

As you all might know Union Hand Roasted Coffee selects from farmers who produce high quality and pay a premium price for this quality. Moreover, they develop long term relationships with coffee producers that are committed to produce high quality coffee.

My first experiences here show that these two aspects, a fair price and the long-term relationship are very much appreciated by the farmers and are most likely to positively influence the quality of coffee. The fair price and the guarantee that Union hand Roasted Coffee will buy from them reduces the risk that farmers take when they invest in their coffee fields.

To illustrate, applying fertilizer is expensive and one is not always sure where the fertilizer will actually improve yields. When a farmer is not sure whether and at what price he can sell his coffee, as is the case when selling to intermediaries or coyotes as called in Latin America, the decision to apply fertilizer therefore includes a risk. It is a big expense and the pay-offs are uncertain. Union Hand Roasted Coffee has a contract with cooperatives with specifies the quantities and a minimum price therefore farmers know how much room they have to invest.

However, there are many questions to be answered. One of them is what is this fair-price? How much do farmers need in order to maintain and invest in not only their coffee fields but also in their family, education, health etc.? Where do farmers face problems in producing a high quality coffee? And where do the strengths lie to produce the excellent cup of coffee that we all like to enjoy?! This is just a small example of the things that I am hopefully going to find out during the course of my 5 months stay in Guatemala and Costa Rica.

I will regularly update you! But now I first will enjoy a delicious cup of Huehuetanango Highland Coffee!  

                   Saludos y un abrazo

                                Pascale

Any questions you’d like to ask Pascale about her research, please leave a comment below.

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