From the Field, From the Lab, News

Monday, March 22, 2021

Building a More Sustainable Supply Chain Together

Sucafina is dedicated to seeking innovative solutions to some of today’s biggest issues, always in ways that positively impact our partners across the coffee supply chain. Effecting positive, lasting change is a lengthy process, but we’re proud to share updates on our progress towards a more sustainable and equitable supply chain.

Measuring & Reducing Sucafina’s Carbon Footprint

By taking responsibility for our own carbon emissions, we’re taking steps to improve the coffee industry’s environmental impact. This past year, we set out to calculate our carbon footprint in three locations: our Antwerp and Sydney offices and our Rwanda supply chain (including washing stations, dry mill and farms).  Once we identify where we’re contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, we will begin implementing carbon reduction measures that make us part of the solution.

At our Sydney, Australia office, staff performed a full audit of their carbon emissions and installed enough solar panels to fully offset energy usage at their office.

Our Rwanda offices launched another climate-focused project in October 2020, when 152 solar panels were installed on the roof of Sucafina’s Kigali dry mill. So far, the solar panels have already prevented 9.12 tons of carbon emissions – that's the equivalent of not refilling an average-sized car 77 times, saving about 3,524 liters (931 gallons) of gasoline. The long-term goal is to scale this up through a variety of initiatives.

Just 2 months later, in December 2020, Sucafina Uganda also installed 304 solar panels on Sucafina’s Kampala dry mill, saving 27kg of carbon dioxide per day. Over a year, that’s the equivalent of not driving 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles)!

At Sucafina Specialty’s Antwerp, Belgium office, their ambitious long-term goal is to make the office carbon-negative, where they’ll not only reduce their carbon emissions but also begin implementing programs that will offset global carbon emissions, resulting in a carbon-negative footprint. 

Another carbon-reduction project began in Indonesia in July 2020, when Sucafina became the first coffee exporter to ship coffee directly from Port of Jambi in West Java. Exporting from Port of Jambi adds value that stays with producers in local communities in Kerinci, where a significant portion of Indonesia’s coffee is produced. Shipping from Jambi also saves 0.8 tons of carbon per ton of green coffee shipped. By avoiding the circuitous trip to Medan by truck and ferry, we prevent 1.84 tons of carbon from being emitted – that's the equivalent of not driving 6,665 kilometers (4,142 miles) in an average-sized car!

Reducing our carbon footprint is an important step towards a more sustainable coffee industry. We’ll continue investing in carbon reduction technologies and practices and multiplying our impact by expanding to other Sucafina offices.

Quality Improvement Projects Find Local Solutions

We're inspired by Sucafina employees who seek out and advocate for solutions that best suit their offices. The solar panels installed at our Kigali and Kampala dry mills were one example of a climate-solution driven by local Sucafina employees, and those solar panels are already making a measurable impact on our carbon footprint. Similarly, our quality improvement programs in Uganda and Kenya are driven by local employees using their expertise to find the most direct and impactful ways to effect change in their regions. 

This past year, Sucafina Uganda started 5 demonstration plots in the Greater Masaka area in Uganda. These demonstration plots enable us to conduct location-specific tests to compare the impacts of fertilizers, mulches, biopesticides and cover crops. Through these tests, we’re finding better ways to reduce chemical inputs, protect the land from erosion and increase overall yield & quality, all while learning from local producers and making any new methods accessible to our partners.  

In Kenya, farm inputs are the largest production cost for many of our partners. Sucafina Kenya directly addresses farmer profitability by providing soil testing data that helps farmers improve their quality and yields with more precise input application.

As we continue to invest in lowering our carbon footprint, we’ll keep looking to our local teams for their expertise to help us identify the best place-based solutions for each Sucafina location. 

Investing in the Future of Coffee with Sucafina East Africa Academy

We believe that, in addition to listening to our local experts, investing in the future of coffee is about investing in the next generation of talent.  In September 2020, Sucafina’s East Africa Academy welcomed 13 new interns, drawn from universities across East Africa to Sucafina’s in-country offices. This inaugural class of interns span the full range studies and are working in Sucafina’s finance, operations, sustainability, agricultural extension, logistics, IT, retail and trade departments.

Sucafina’s Academy program offers a 12-month structured training opportunity to university graduates. Trainees receive hands-on experience and an introduction to the coffee industry designed to equip them with the knowledge and experience necessary for a career in the coffee industry, with Sucafina and beyond. With their comprehensive view of the coffee industry, we hope that no matter what careers they pursue, trainees will also become ambassadors for specialty coffee, promoting coffee production and consumption amongst their peers and communities. We’re excited to see what the inaugural class of the Academy will accomplish. Keep an eye out for more information coming soon.

Women’s Empowerment Project Makes Coffee More Sustainable

We’re proud to be a part of a USAID-funded program designed to increase gender equality by supporting female coffee farmers in Burundi. In collaboration with the Kahawatu Foundation and Rama Dufatanemunda Women’s Empowerment Association, we’re implementing partners in the Tuyage project (named for the Kirundi word meaning “let’s talk”).

Together, we’ll will work with more than 400 women to facilitate discussions and offer training programs that address the cultural, financial and legal barriers to women’s economic success. Training opportunities will include entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy and good agricultural practices. Tuyage will also facilitate female mentorship opportunities and expand market access and financing options for women across the coffee value chain.

In addition to working with female farmers on the production side, Sucafina will add value by marketing the coffees produced through Tuyage and delivering social and quality premiums contributing producers.

These programs – from carbon reduction to increasing gender equality in partner communities – are only small highlights of our wider Sustainability efforts, which are made possible by the support of all our partners along the supply chain, including you, our clients.  

We offer many opportunities for roasters to invest directly in projects like these. Ask your trader for more information about our many ‘project’ coffees that directly support our sustainability programs – including projects that work to offset climate change, improve cup quality, increase gender equality, and enhance food security.