Over the last five years, Bewley’s have paid over €1.5m in Fairtrade Premiums.
It is up to each of the coffee cooperatives to decide how these funds are used, but often this premium is used to invest in programmes to mitigate and offset the effects of climate change.
80% of the world’s coffee is produced by 25 million small-holder farmers. These farmers particularly feel the negative impact of climate change, which continues to affect coffee growing regions around the world. Just one example is the Nicaraguan cooperative SOPPEXCCA, based in Jinotega, long-time partners of Bewley’s and led by Fatima Ismael, also a trained agronomist. Fatima and her team coordinate the 700 or so farmers who grow coffee for the cooperative. With the growing trend of worsening harvests, the cooperative has already begun preparing initiatives to diversify, ensuring the farms remain sustainable for the future, including specialised training to introduce new coffee varietals that will grow higher up the mountain, compensating for the temperature changes.
This year has proven to be the worst yet for SOPPEXCCA, much like many other producers. Unseasonably cold weather in December and January led to a far worse harvest than normal. Coffee cherries don’t respond well to cold weather, and the unusually strong winds have also blown many cherries from the trees. Overall yields are predicted to be lower this year. However, Louise Whitaker, Bewley’s Sustainability Manager who recently visited the cooperative, remains positive. “It was clear the cooperative were already taking impressive steps to turn things around. It’s amazing how forward-looking they are being.”
These developments have been funded in part by the Fairtrade premiums paid over the past eleven years by Bewley’s. It is a reminder of how vital Fairtrade and long-term personal relationships are in helping coffee farmers adapt to and mitigate the effect of climate change.