Article: CC Partner Wins UN Sustainability Award

Written by Cafe Campesino on Sep 1, 2002 in Article, NEWSLETTER |
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At the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of Café Campesino’s coffee partners was awarded the “2002 World Summit Business Award for Sustainable Development Partnerships.” ForesTrade, Inc., which supplies organic and Fair Trade Sumatran origin beans to Café Campesino, was the only award winner from the United States — and one of just ten business partnerships awarded worldwide! The award recognizes businesses that have established multi-stakeholder partnerships with NGOs and other organizations resulting in advancement of the three key areas of sustainable development — environmental, social and economic. Presented jointly by the UN and the International Chamber of Commerce, this award honors both ForesTrade’s innovative business model and its commitment to the environment. To read more about the UN/ICC award, visit

www.iccwbo.org/sdcharter/corp_init/icc-unep/index.asp.

ForesTrade was founded in 1996 by Thomas Fricke and Sylvia Blanchet. Headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, ForesTrade has a European office in the Netherlands, and offices in Guatemala and Indonesia, which keep them directly connected to the local grower groups and farmer cooperatives. While coffee lovers are familiar with some of the fruits of their work on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, ForesTrade is also the world’s leading supplier of organic spices, and has branched into supplying organic essential oils.

The Sumatran coffee you’ve been enjoying from Café Campesino is provided by ForesTrade and their coffee-producing partner, the PPKGO, located in Central Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. The PPKGO – Koperasi Persatuan Petani Kopi Gayo Organik, (which in the local Gayo dialect roughly translates to Gayo Organic Coffee Farmers Association) is established as a registered cooperative, with democratically elected officers and active farmer-member participation. ForesTrade partners with PPKGO on a number of levels and directly links the cooperative to the international organic and fair trade coffee market. ForesTrade and PPKGO’s coffee project began in 1997 and allows Café Campesino to offer two Sumatran coffee selections in our product line – Sumatra Gayo and the Indonesia Espresso Blend. An article by Maryann Schrupp in this issue of FairGrounds gives more information about the coffee farmers in PPKGO who provide us with these wonderful beans.

ForesTrade inhabits a small but growing sector in the global marketplace today – a company founded on the premise that “business can and should be a vehicle for socio-economic progress and environmental protection.” Their work with farmers, organized into “grower groups” and “cooperatives” in Guatemala and Indonesia, turns that premise into reality by providing economic incentives to farmers to adhere to organic agriculture practices. They provide affordable financing so farmers can acquire equipment, transportation and processing infrastructure, train growers on organic and sustainable practices and sponsor nurseries to facilitate cash crops and reintroduce traditional plants. Partnering with around 3,500 farmers in Indonesia, and another 2,500 in Guatemala, ForesTrade’s efforts are having a significant impact on the environmental and economic health in these areas. One example of their sustainable practices is the maintenance of buffer zones around forest preserves and national parks – they have worked with the cooperatives to ensure that farmers will not encroach on protected areas, thereby encouraging the development of biodiversity.

To date, PPKGO has grown to a membership of approximately 1,400 members, and in the past 2001-2002 harvest produced over 1,100 tons of coffee, of which 55% was sold as Fair Trade. Their story is all the more remarkable given that the Aceh (pronounced ah-chay) Province has been in the midst of a violent struggle between government forces and indigenous rebel separatists protesting the lack of services provided to this area rich in natural resources. As ForesTrade co-founder Thomas Fricke stated, “directly in the middle of a war zone, the farmers that started this project were very courageous… they decided to take a leap of faith and practice sustainable principles.”

ForesTrade is a wonderful example of how a business can successfully balance a triple bottom line in today’s world. By upholding environmental protection and social and economic progress, their achievements are proof that there is room in the marketplace for compassion. “I want consumers to know that when they’re spending their money on organic and fair trade, they really are making a difference in the communities that we work with,” says ForesTrade co-founder Sylvia Blanchet. You, our readers, and members are making that difference.

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Nate Wayman is a caffeine addict who is currently studying non-profit management in southern Vermont. He can be reached at nate@ifairtrade.net.

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