Direct trade at SONNENTOR
Organic farmer DON JOSÉ MARIA CASTRO (CHEMA to his friends) lives with his family in the misty forests of the province of Jinotega, northern Nicaragua. There, he looks after the SONNENTOR highland coffee variety, Caturra, which grows in the shade under tree canopies. Chema is part of an organic grower cooperative from which SONNENTOR directly (via Direct Trade) obtains its highland coffee. SONNENTOR knows the farmers personally and has maintained long term and fair partnerships with them so that families such as Chema’s can thrive. SONNENTOR further supports the region with the development of shade-grown coffee cultivation, a commendable method protecting both vegetation and water resources.
ADA (Austrian Development Agency) project in Nicaragua
In the summer of 2012, we launched an ambitious project in Nicaragua, together with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the agency for Austrian Development Cooperation. We joined forces with the local company Biosfair run by Ulrich Salamun, one of the three Maschek men and coffee activist, who has a strong social and ecologically sustainable focus to support coffee farmers like Don Emilio.
The profits of Biosfair are reinvested in the education and training of the employees and farmers as well as in the infrastructure. The gain knowledge enables the co-operatives to create the necessary structures in the medium term and to carry out processes independently. Cooperations were also established with, for example, the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, the Universidad Nacional Agraria in Nicaragua and agricultural engineers.
"In addition to bananas and sugar cane, coffee is one of the most important export products of the country. After civil wars and natural disasters, Nicaragua is one of the world's poorest countries. We are very pleased to be able to provide a long-term foundation for the people, together with Biosfair and the ADA, "said Johannes Gutmann.
Thanks to the project in the Jinotega region, small farmers get an income that secures food, education and medical care, and reduces the pressure to emigrate. In addition, organic plant cultivation has created 23 new jobs. By 2015, 60 farmers had gained qualifications to work in organic agriculture and had achieved organic certification. In the medium to long term, 50% of the required coffee, about 60 tonnes, is to be purchased directly from Nicaragua.
We have set ourselves the goal of supporting the entire value chain in the country of origin in Nicaragua. This allows farmers to focus on the organic cultivation of coffee. We are investing over 125,000 euros in the ‘sunny’ project. The remaining financial support, a total of EUR 250,000 is needed, is coming from ADA.