San Fermin 2017
When we travelled to Colombia this year we didn’t just visit the farmers we’ve worked with the past few years. We also went to a new region for us to find some organically certified coffee from the Colombian Andes.
Tolima: A History of Violence
For many years, Colombia was a country in turmoil. Drug cartels and corrupt politicians kept the country in constant disarray. You don’t have to look further back than 10 years to see a country that was very unsafe to travel in, in the manner we do today. Of course, now there is peace and you don’t feel unsafe at all whilst travelling, but it’s still clear that these civil unrests affected some parts of the country more than others and Tolima was one of the last places for the violence to stop.
This year, besides visiting farms in Huila, we decided to go to Tolima and visit some organic farmers in the outskirts of Planadas. Historically, due to the presence of FARC, Tolima has not been able to produce specialty coffee for as long as Huila has. But because of these conditions, the farmers have had a chance to get more organised from the get-go. They have formed many small associations, similar to El Desarollo, where they have focussed on the organic market, that has been growing a lot the past 10 years. They have seen what they have been doing in Huila and used that knowledge to better their situation, when the opportunity arose.
There is a lot more, not only organically certified farmers, but also organically certified associations in this area compared to Huila and because of decisions made to standardize methods for the common good, you see some very advanced practices from the farmers who produce organically here. Furthermore, because of this history, it is also much cheaper to buy land in Tolima, which means that the farmers usually have more land and produce higher amounts of coffee.