Grecia Trip – Wycombe for Fairtrade – Morning Monday 16 May 2022

Carlos small holding organic coffee bushes. Carlos with Maria Angela the Sustainability Manager for the CoopeVictoria Cooperative

Visit to Carlos’ organic Fairtrade Coffee and Sugar Cane Farm

Carlos was an experienced and much-respected organic Fairtrade coffee and sugar cane small-owner farmer, who also sat on the Board of CoopeVictoria. He showed us around and explained the cultivation of the coffee and sugar cane as well as the production of high-quality avocadoes, sold to local supermarkets and for home consumption as additional income.

Developing coffee cherries go red when ripe for picking.

Coffee: Carlos grew 3 varieties of Fair-Trade certified organic coffee from Costa Rica, Brazil, and Peru. Some varieties were grown under shade trees, but other varieties responded to direct sunlight. Most of his coffee, roasted by CoopeVictoria, was sold on Fairtrade terms for export only. This was mainly grown on volcanic soil on hillsides and slopes.

Growing Fairtrade Certified organic sugar cane

Sugar cane: This was grown on the flatter land to enable machinery to operate. However, much of the sugar cane was cut by hand using machetes in harvest season. The 9- or 10-foot sugar cane stalks are crushed at the CoopeVictoria sugar mill and sold for export, mostly on Fair-Trade terms. His organic Fairtrade sugar cane once pulped goes to an alcohol factory to be distilled into the local Cacique, a 30% proof Costa Rican rum.

Polycane: Carlos was experimenting with growing and harvesting a new method of extracting a fine white powder emanating from the joints in the cane stalks. Polycane will be refined at the CoopeVictoria mill and has a very low cholesterol level and is high in sweetness. It is then sold on for alcohol production at the FANAL factory for further refining to be used in making rum (30% proof Cacique) or distilled further to remove the methanol for use in hand sanitizers and gels. An agronomist and plant researcher has patented the extraction process and initial independent reach findings suggest this low cholesterol sugar will be very useful in the carbonated drinks industry to reduce the sugar levels in Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The patent holder wants CoopeVictoria to produce “Polycane” in vast quantities and they are already having discussions with cola and carbonated drink producers. Polycane is very sweet, so one needs far less than ordinary granulated sugar in drinks.

Carlos small holding Avocados for local home and supermarket consumption

Avacados:  Carlos grows several varieties of high-quality avocados as a diverse income stream. He sells these to local supermarkets, homedelivery and for farm gate direct sale. His organic avocadoes are highly valued, are sold locally and are NOT Fairtrade certified.

Other crops: – Carlos produces a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs for home consumption but also for medicinal purposes. He grows his own lemons for home consumption, and having sampled some, it is the finest lemonade I have ever sampled. Carlos is staring to supply some independent local supermarkets with his fruit and vegetables which helps to diversify his income stream.

Mike King

15th July 2022

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