100 million tree commitment

01/06/23

Coffee farming and renovation in Mexico

 

In Mexico, coffee is cultivated in fourteen states and 85% of the production is concentrated between Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Puebla. The farmed coffee land is estimated by SIAP (1), to be totaling 702 thousand hectares between these four states, where AMSA (ECOM coffee Mexico) has facilities and an ample presence in the field. The area covered by AMSA represents 5.3% at the national level.

 

History of the project

 

In 2016, ECOM and Starbucks launched a 3 year program initially called One Bag One tree, whose purpose was that for every bag of coffee sold, a coffee plant was donated to support the renovation of the producers' coffee farms. The goal was to deliver 30 million trees to farmers in Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices supply chains in Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador.

 

This ambitious project was a response to the widespread outbreak of coffee rust – the fungal disease known locally as La Roya – that reduces the productivity of coffee plants and can impact whole farms. That’s why ECOM committed to grow and deliver high-yield, rust-resistant Marsellesa seedlings to coffee producers.

 

This long-term partnership with Starbucks has been extended to 2025 to meet their “100 Million Tree Commitment” as the necessity of renovation was still very large. The allocation of plants between the producers was made according to the necessity for renovation evaluated in each farm. This also resulted in an increase of the farmers' interest to produce coffee through more sustainable practices. 

 

Last but not least by replacing aging trees – or those impacted by disease – we were able to create a sustainable and long-term supply of coffee while improving farmer livelihoods.

 

 

 

100 Million Tree Commitment

 

Since the beginning of this project, more than 28.75 million plants have been delivered in Mexico to coffee producers within AMSA supply chains and other Starbucks suppliers. On an annual average, this project represented for AMSA around 4.10 million plants delivered to 8,200 producers which is equivalent to renewing more than 1,200 hectares per year (2).

 

In 2023, 38% of the plant volume attributed by Starbucks in Mexico is intended for producers that belong to AMSA's supply chains within the C.A.F.E. verification program. There is still a lot of work to be done to boost the quality of the plants in our producers’ farms, hence our improving efforts every year. We are constantly searching for new potential farmers that could join the program, and this explains the higher allocation of plants from Starbucks to Mexico every year. In 2023, AMSA is planning to deliver 3,927,000 trees.

 

In parallel to this program, it is also important to highlight that since 2018, Alsea, the Starbucks franchise operator in Mexico, has acquired from AMSA nurseries, 3.17 thousand plants to supply producers in several states such as Oaxaca, Puebla, Chiapas, and Altas Montañas in the center of Veracruz.

 

 

 

 

Producer Story 

 

 

"It started with the desire to change my parents living conditions, and it became a family business"


Virgilio Cabrera Flores is 32 years old and the son of coffee producers. Today, he is a producer in the locality Huixtla, in the municipality Tlaola, Puebla. He saw the opportunity to invest in his sisters' lot, who gave him the support to experiment and plant coffee there with the objective of obtaining profit for both parties. Since then, Virgilio has relied on coffee as his only source of income. Some of his daily activities include slashing, plant renovation, cost recording, and coffee cutting, among others. He does these tasks alone and in some cases he hires two or three workers, depending on the season. 

 

He joined the AMSA supply chains in September 2017 following a meeting in the commercial area with the SMS team in his community. His intention was to participate in the C.A.F.E. Practices verification program, thus arousing interest in selling to the company. However, with his father they were only selling coffee cherries. This prompted the technical team to offer them advice on how to move on to the processing stage and obtain parchment coffee. They did this and started with a manual pulper that allowed them to deliver parchment to AMSA, in order to increase their income. 

 

In 2018, they received their first Marsellesa variety coffee plants, donated by Starbucks. Virgilio then decided to experiment with new planting techniques, such as planting on level curves per defined block. He believed that foliar application on the farm was an activity that only "the rich" do. However, the SMS team in 2021 convinced him to use foliar products for application, substantially improving the quality of coffee in his farm. In 2022, he even managed to obtain 19.39 Quintales (Qq) with characteristics of chocolate and honey notes and was able to sell it to our specialty company Cari Coffee (specialized in microlots). In that same year, he made considerable profits from farming, allowing him to change his roof to a concrete slab. 

 

Virgilio is very grateful to the AMSA-SMS team for the support they have given him, the technical recommendations and the follow-up. This helped him to improve his productivity from having a yield of 5.99 to 18.5 Qq/ha. He wishes to continue maintaining this activity in the future as it became the main income for him and allowed him to remodel the house where he grew up, which is his parents home. 

 

 

Article written by: Alejandra Marcin

 

 

(1) SIAP: Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera de México

(2) Perspectives: By 2024, AMSA will start producing plants using biopot technology (Biopegn), with a smaller environmental footprint.

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