I n such a complex commodity with such a far reaching sup-ply chain, we at ECOM feel it is near impossible to try and name just one issue as the game changer in 2015.
Rather, in an increasingly volatile industry, the one constant we see is the need for regular on-farm investment, combined with part-nerships along the supply chain all the way to the roaster. In a market filled with increasing un-certainty and competitiveness, supply chain partnership that is mutually beneficial along the en-tire value chain is critical for suc-cess. In the face of such challeng-es, the game changer on a micro level is: how does the coffee grower maintain motivation and confidence to continue to invest in their farms in order to support their livelihood?
We at ECOM believe focus is needed at the farm level working with producers. We need to work with farmers to assist them to better understand the complexi-ties and risks and that their farming operations need to be run like a business. To enable us to work towards these goals with our producers ECOM established Sustainable Management Ser-vices (SMS) in early 2004. The fundamental mission of SMS is to provide competitive whole farm solutions that improve productiv-ity, quality and sustainability of farming to create the best inte-grated supply chains.
Achieving this means working with the farmers at the real grass roots level, helping them to un-derstand their costs of produc-tion, by constantly looking at ways to increase their production per tree, per hectare, per unit of fertilizer and other inputs. Once these parameters have been es-tablished we can then work with them to try and manage the price risk associated with their produc-tion through multiple options such as forward contracts or crop insurance, and with a focus on quality and marketing so that roasters around the world will pay the necessary premium for a premium product.
We also need to work with various international partners and donors on initiatives that support our work. This is best exemplified through our partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in build-ing and supporting farmer training centres (FTC). We have two FTCs in Vietnam and two in Indonesia, with plans to open one in Papua New Guinea and one in Africa. Farmers visit the FTCs regularly to see first hand the latest farming techniques and discuss with our agronomists and field staff current issues of mar-ket or agronomy. These FTCs have proven to be an excellent resource to the farmer on their door step and accessible for their needs at any time. It says something of our focus as a group when we realised last year we had more agronomists on our team than we did coffee trad-ers. The game changer in 2015 is at the roots of the coffee plant on which all other value grows.
SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT SERVICES Andrew Falconer, Managing Director Asia Pacific Coffee – ECOM