Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) disburses USD 2 million to promote Fairtrade quinoa. In addition, the ongoing technical assistance project is enhancing the farmers’ production and will protect them better against climate change.

You could consider quinoa as a part of the Bolivian cultural heritage. The Bolivians are relying on the grain as a food source for 7,000 years. Despite the rising popularity of the grain, quinoa farmers face challenges like low productivity and climate change.

SINDAN, a Bolivian processor and exporter of quinoa is boosting the organic and Fairtrade production and consumption of quinoa (and other crops like for example also of chia and amaranth). Not just any quinoa, but the organic royal quinoa, a unique variety found only in the Bolivian Altiplano, at altitudes above 3,600 meters. The particular environment of a dry and cold climate with soils rich in salt lead to a superior quality. No wonder, this variety is in high demand both nationally and internationally.

SINDAN buys the quinoa from certified Fairtrade associations, representing hundreds of smallholder farmers. In that way, SINDAN offers those small farmers a secure market and prices above the average of other local buyers, which gives them the opportunity to raise the standard of their living. On top of that SINDAN provides trainings on techniques to help the farmers increase their production in a sustainable way.

Low productivity and climate risks threaten the livelihood of communities that depend almost exclusively on quinoa production. That is the reason why Incofin is not only investing via a USD 2 million dollar loan disbursement, but also developed a technical assistance project to finetune the farmers’ production techniques. The objective is to boost quinoa yields using environmentally friendly practices, through an integral productivity training program. This program includes topics like the use of organic fertilizers, how to prevent erosion, seed management and disease controls. The project has shown encouraging results: almost 200 producers have been trained already and they have implemented innovative techniques to produce sustainable quinoa which is after a year and a half leading to higher yields.

The second goal is to implement a climate change adaptation action plan to reduce the impact of unpredictable weather patterns and extreme climate events.  Meteorological sensors have been installed in two communities. Through these sensors, farmers will get early alerts and meteorological reports on their phone, as well as technical advice on how to protect their crop better when necessary.

 

A Fairtrade certification brings many advantages: it ensures consumers that they are buying a good quality product in accordance with social, environmental and economic standards. Smallholder farmers benefit from a Fairtrade premium and receive a minimum price which protects them in case market prices drop. That is why Incofin assists their Congolese partner organization to acquire the Fairtrade certificate.

Incofin IM recently launched a technical assistance project with the Congolese (DRC) coffee cooperative SOPROCOPIV, an investee of Incofin since February 2020, via Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF). The Technical Assistance project is co-financed by the Technical Assistance facility of the FAF (TAF) funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The cooperative, who already has the UTZ, Organic and Fair for Life certifications, expressed its strong willingness to become Fairtrade certified by the end of 2021.

The Fairtrade audit cannot be conducted on site for security and infrastructure reasons, SOPROCOPIV is part of the pilot program for “certification in special conditions“. The process will be conducted online and before performing the audit, the cooperative needs to comply with it. Incofin supports SOPROCOPIV in acquiring the Fairtrade certification by training its agronomists on the certification standards and helping the cooperative in the required documentation of processes before the audit. As a result of this project, SOPROCOPIV expects to have no less than 5,036 farmers Fairtrade certified by 2022.

Fairtrade certified coffee farmers benefit from Fairtrade premiums and receive as well the minimum price which provides a vital safety net in case the market prices drop. The cooperative will also attract more buyers and sell more quality products.

The cooperative has shown great enthusiasm and motivation since the start of the project. As of today, 3,350 farmers have been trained on the Fairtrade standards already.

”We sincerely thank the Fairtrade Access Fund through its Technical Assistance department for agreeing to accompany SOPROCOPIV in the process of Fairtrade certification. This assistance plays a great role in this process because it allows the cooperative to have an expert consultant in certification who is now supervising and training us on the different Fairtrade standards. This assistance has a positive impact because it responds to a real need that SOPROCOPIV has to certify its members in order to promote a fair trade along the whole value chain and to benefit from these advantages aiming at improving the lives of the farmers.”Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

Covid-19 crisis relief

SOPROCOPIV will be the first investee of the Fairtrade Access Fund that will be supported by the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. Faitrade International launched the funds, co-financed by TAF, last year to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while also establishing a foundation for longer-term economic recovery efforts.

Incofin’s grant will support SOPROCOPIV’s campaign to raise awareness among its members and their families on how to contain the spread of the virus. The cooperative has distributed information leaflets, washable masks and soap to its members and has sensitized them on the importance of adhering to the essential health measures. In addition, it will install water tanks in two villages that have no water access.

“The approval and execution of this project was a salvation and allowed all the members of our cooperative to benefit from some necessary kits for the prevention of this pandemic such as soaps, nose covers, water tanks in gathering places like washing stations and factories for the regular washing of hands. The project has enabled the cooperative to strengthen the capacities of its members by sensitizing them on the protection and the fight against the coronavirus. We thank the FAF TAF for this support and encourage it to support other initiatives to improve the welfare of rural farmers.” – Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

About SOPROCOPIV 

SOPROCOPIV is a Congolese coffee cooperative located in the Butembo region of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Established in 2008 by a group of smallholder farmers, the cooperative has been growing from year to year to go from 1,408 members at its creation to 7,636 in April 2021. SOPROCOPIV is recognized as the biggest sustainably certified cooperative in the Butembo region. Its mission is to bring Congolese coffee production to a competitive level throughout the world in order to valorize the efforts of farmers by offering them the best prices and premiums for excellence through the quality certificates obtained.

www.soprocopiv.com

 

About the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF)

Read more about FAF in the Annual Report 2020.

www.incofinfaf.com