GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, April 11, 2019 – In its continuous effort to protect farmers from the impact of volatile prices, Sucafina today announced US$ 5 million in seed funding and working capital over the next 3 years to invest in alternative projects on agency banking, grain and banana production, as well as circular economy models for supplying goods and services to farmers living in proximity to the Group’s assets in East Africa.
The current period of low coffee prices is exposing the deep vulnerability of the value chain. Many coffee farmers are now operating below their cost of production and nowhere is this situation more critical than East Africa where some of the best beans in the World are produced by an estimated 9 million smallholders. As one of the leading and oldest exporters of coffee from East Africa – with a presence in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, Sucafina appreciates just how badly market headwinds can disrupt supply chains and coffee communities. If a smallholder uproots a coffee tree, there is a very high probability that he or she will never return to coffee again – such is the investment in time and land required to produce the first crop.
«Low coffee prices are putting farming communities and trading businesses at risk. When we recognize the importance of farmer relationships to our business, it’s a no-brainer that by directing more resources towards farmers, we can unlock new supply chain opportunities for both parties, by looking beyond coffee if necessary,» said Chief Executive Officer of Sucafina, Nicolas A. Tamari.
In this context, Sucafina launched its “Farmer Hub” initiative in December 2018, with a challenge to come up with innovative solutions that create more value for the company’s supply chain and its long-standing relationship with farmers. To support the initiative and address the industry challenges, a team of consultants was brought in to work on the innovation process alongside Sucafina’s origin managers. Using techniques based on human-centered design, managers went through a series of face-to-face workshops and online meetings to iterate new business ideas. This was followed by an incubation period that culminated in each team pitching new start-ups back to the Management Committee – Silicon Valley style.
«Unlocking the full potential of coffee while ensuring sustainable agriculture and activation of the value chain through new innovative solutions will be crucial for the future, » said David Behrends, Managing Partner & Head of Trading at Sucafina. «For Sucafina, to move so fast is a testament to just how nimble and opportunistic you need to be in this business. We are a pure play coffee merchant and always will be, but some of the ag. innovations we are looking at could be game changers for how we work with farmers going forward. » he added. « This new investment is also a key step forward toward achieving Sucafina’s vision to be the leading sustainable ‘Farm to Roaster’ coffee company in the world.»
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About Sucafina Group:
Sucafina is a leading sustainable “Farm to Roaster” coffee company, with a family tradition in commodities that stretches back to 1905. Today, with more than 850 employees in 28 countries, the Group is a leading player in the world of green, roasted, instant coffee merchanting. With its main trading arm based in Geneva, Sucafina sources coffee from most producing countries, often directly from farmers, to provide its partners with sustainable value across the global supply chain. Learn more at www.sucafina.com