In the Rural Alternative School (ERA) of Tuluá, Valle del Cauca, an association of farmers who were victims of the armed conflict (ASOPROVENUS) and a cooperative of ex-combatants (COOLMUNES) have been collaborating on agricultural projects since July 2018. By utilizing technology, they are now working together to make the coffee production process more efficient for export to Italy, under a Collaborative Commercial Partnership with illy Caffè.
PASO Colombia provided the ERA participants with a coffee drying machine that allows them to dry the coffee bean that they produce, as well as the coffee they buy from other growers of the region. As Jorge Eliecer, member of the COOLMUNES cooperative explains, “During the harvest season, the winter is hard, so the farmers decide to sell wet coffee. With this equipment we can dry the coffee, so small farmers and ex-combatants can earn additional income.” The use of the drying machine guarantees a better-quality product and a higher selling price.
The coffee drying machine also reuses the coffee husk to produce the heat to dry the coffee bean and has a filter to eliminate smoke emissions during its operation. This reduces the machine’s impact on the environment and optimizes local resources. Thanks to its strategic location, small traders and coffee-growers can transport their harvests easily to dry and sell the coffee here. This decreases transportation costs by up to ninety percent, providing an incentive to other coffee-growers of the region to sell their coffee at the ERA.
The coffee drying machine is also complemented with an adjacent laboratory, where ERA participants can test the quality of the coffee to make sure that it meets the standards of high-quality, important to illy Caffè and other buyers.
The ERA of Tuluá is a collaborative platform that, in addition to the work of ASOPROVENUS and COOLMUNES, harnesses the efforts of the Governorship of the Valle del Cauca Department, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Colombian Association of Small Coffee-growers, the Verification Mission of the UN in Colombia, and the World Food Programme (WFP).