Tapiwanashe Mangwiro Senior Business Reporter
Nestle, through its Nespresso AAA programme, intends to recruit more farmers in Honde Valley to produce coffee as global prices firm due to disruptions in major coffee supplying nations.
Speaking from Nestle headquarters in Switzerland, corporate communications and public affairs officer Kathrine Graham said the volatile situation had led to stronger prices hence the need to incentivise farmers to take up coffee farming.
“The current trend of high coffee prices doesn’t change much in our approach. We remain focused on the strategy that we have employed since the beginning in Zimbabwe; working in partnership with farmers, providing technical assistance to help them grow high-quality sustainable coffee and rewarding them for their commitment through the Nespresso AAA price premium.”
Other major coffee producing countries such as Ethiopia have been disrupted by civil war while Brazil is experiencing adverse weather due to climate change, causing the rise in coffee prices.
“As you can see, and I’m sure the farmers in the Nespresso AAA Program will testify, that Nestle provides a good incentive to increase yields and motivates others to join the program,” said Graham.
Nestle through the Nespresso AAA programme is working to ensure continued supply of high quality coffee, while improving livelihood of farmers and their communities and protecting the environment.
The programme’s positive impact on the lives of many farmers in Zimbabwe is equally plausible .
In 2021, more than 2 000 farmers were contracted by Nestle to produce coffee.
Additionally, more farmers in Zimbabwe are returning to coffee production because of the financial gains they are seeing accruing to smallholder coffee farmers’ who took up the crop earlier.
“Farmers are coming back to coffee from other crops,” says Nespresso AAA sustainable coffee programme manager Midway Bhunu, who coordinates implementation in the Honde Valley region of Zimbabwe.
Mr Bhunu also helped to develop the curriculum of the programme’s AAA Academy, which provides lessons on crop management to local farmers.
The academy is contributing to the empowerment of women as well as encouraging training to include as many women as men so they can learn the same skills. Current female participation in Nespresso AAA programmes in Zimbabwe stands at 47 percent.
On climate change, Ms Graham added, “The current trends illustrate an important point, though.
“It’s another reminder that coffee farmers in particular are at the mercy of factors far beyond their control – a volatile global market and weather shocks resulting from climate change.
“It’s why the Nespresso AAA programme focuses on empowering farmers to build resilience, both financial and environmental, to insulate them and their communities as much as possible against future uncertainties,” she added.
Through this programme, Nestle is also providing technical assistance to farmers to reduce the effects of climate change.
“On prices, we would not speculate, but again, it highlights. the volatility of the market and underscores why it is important to focus on building resilience.”