Discover how a new pension program changed the lives of Colombian coffee farmers.
In Aguadas, a small and colourful Colombian town perched in the Andes mountains, farmers would sit down at the family dinner table to enjoy a cup of coffee at the end of a tiring day tending their coffee plants. Sometimes the conversation would turn to the future and the children would talk about working in the city to escape the financial insecurity of farming. It wasn’t a conversation the farmers particularly enjoyed. They wanted to pass down their farms and heritage to the next generation.
Keen to improve the welfare of the farmers, we asked them how we could help. The reply was clear. What they most wanted was a pension to help protect their farms, families and futures. At the time, only about seven percent had one.
We teamed up with the Colombian Ministry of Labour, the Aguadas Coffee Growers’ Cooperative and Fairtrade International to launch a pilot pension scheme in Caldas in 2014.
The Colombian government matches 20 percent of what farmers invest, while we’ve put more than $2.2 million into the scheme. Farmers can save as often and as much as they like, making sure they have an income for life. Today, more than 1,100 have signed up.
Farmers can save as often and as much as they like, making sure they have an income for life.
“This guarantee of welfare for the elderly is part of the profound social transformation this government is driving and comes with support from the private sector,” said Colombia’s Labour Minister, Rafael Pardo, when the scheme was launched.
“We are delighted to enter into this partnership with Nespresso, which will allow us to leverage the relationships they have built with farmers in Aguadas over the last ten years.”
The new pension scheme marks an expansion of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, created in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance which started in 2003. As part of this new focus on farmers’ welfare, we also set up a dedicated initiative called the AAA Farmer Future Program, which includes the farmers’ retirement plan.
It’s only available to AAA farmers, one of whom is Delio Gonzalez. “It gives us hope to be able to reach our retirement age; we can rest and enjoy our old age quietly,” he said.
It gives us hope to be able to reach our retirement age; we can rest and enjoy our old age quietly.
Others, too, see a much brighter future for the Colombian coffee sector since the pension’s launch.
“Our hope is that this will also help the younger generation see coffee farming as a viable career, so preserving this essential part of the Colombian economy and heritage,” said Harriet Lamb, former CEO of Fairtrade International.