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Mauricio is a 30-year old coffee grower who lives with his mother, wife and stepdaughter in Heliconia. For the past 11 years, Mauricio has cultivated coffee on his 2 hectares of land. He is certified by Fair Trade, as well as the label 4C.
Mauricio provides some examples of Fair Trade requirements, including avoiding water pollution and the limited and proper use of agrochemicals as well as safe disposal of their packaging. He explains: “With regards to the packaging of agrochemicals, we follow a specific process, therefore, we rinse them and take them to the responsible authorities. Previously, we used to dispose them in normal containers. Also, we didn't use much protection when handling those chemicals. I wore normal work clothes when fumigating and now I wear masks, gloves, and protective gear. This already that helped us, we made the change there in that part.”
Apart from this, Mauricio applies a number of sustainable and quality enhancing practices on his farm. He is composing the coffee pulp to mix it with the soil, weeds manually and intercrops with beans and maize. Mauricio also has trees on his farm; the local species Guamo and Nogal. After harvest, wet milling and fermentation, the coffee is dried on African beds and Mauricio has a meter to control the humidity of his product. Unfortunately, Mauricio does not have a wastewater treatment plant, he knows that the cooperative started to support associated farmers in this regard.
Mauricio sells his coffee to the cooperative of coffee growers in Antioquia where he obtains a price premium for being Fair Trade certified. In addition, the cooperative does a quality assessment of his product and the better the quality, the better the renumeration. He appreciates this benefit, alongside with the possibility of obtaining a credit for fertiliser purchase.
Mauricio treats his coffee farm as a proper business and makes sure to keep track of harvest, revenues and expenses. “To lead a profitable business, you have to be organised. This will allow you to identify opportunities to optimise production, e.g. by reducing costs. I have a notebook for the harvest where the harvest of each coffee picker is recorded for every week. And I have another notebook where the income and the expenses are noted down and a folder for receipts. On the computer, I manage an activity scheduling template, manage one of coffee plantation performance, cost management and income management.” When introducing him to blockchain technology, he liked the documentation and digitization aspect of it and hopes that more farmer would be as rigid as him in terms of documenting their production.
In addition, he immediately realised the potential for commercialisation. “This technology would render my product better known, there is as a chance for differentiation. It would no longer say ‘Coffee from Colombia’, but ‘Mauricio’s coffee from El Choco, Heliconia’. It's that differentiation, like the one you aspire to, like being recognized and valued for that job.” Being part of the cooperative, he already receives feedback on his agricultural practices, but he would like to learn more about the consumer preferences to adjust fermentation times, and further optimise drying and storage.