Alonso De Jesús Ramírez Calle
Alonso is a 70-year old coffee grower who lives with his wife and daughter in Titiribí. For the past 40 years, he has cultivated coffee on his 1.2 hectares of land.
The coffee he produces is certified by Fair Trade, 4C and Rainforest. Alonso highlights some of the practices he needs to carry out to obtain his certificates. For instance, he uses pesticides only as a last resort and prefers to treat plagues, such as the well-known broca (coffee berry borer), through biological means. Washing and pulping are performed daily as well as he tries to sell his coffee quickly to maintain the highest quality possible. He uses a humidity meter to check the humidity of the coffee during the fermentation process.
In addition, he conducts several practices that enhance sustainability. Alonso decomposes the coffee pulp, weeds manually, has a nursery for new coffee seedlings, and intercrops with banana, cassava, and maize. His farm also has other tress such as guamo, guayacanes, orange, avocado, lemon, walnut, gallinazo and cedar which provide shade to the coffee plants and whose fruits and leaves served as compost material. However, there are some activities that he acknowledges could be improved. His mill to dry coffee berries runs partially on charcoal and his waste treatment system, built entirely by himself, is rather rudimentary.
Keeping track of his processes is key for Alonso. He explains: "If I don't document, I don't know whether I'm winning or losing". He carries out a register of all the processes involved in farm management, from his workers activities to coffee inputs and sales. Alonso also knows that higher quality pays and that he receives a premium for his certification as well. Still, like many other coffee farmers, he is troubled by the low coffee prices and worried about the future of his coffee business: “The peasant farmer is this country has no support. We are just working, producing to pay. All this land around here, roughly 30 or 40 hectares, belonged to my ancestors.