Finding the bridge between practice and progress with the AAA Academy.
With the launch of a limited edition, we follow the trail of quality and then we engage.
This particular trail led us to Ethiopia, where coffee growing is deeply rooted in cultural practices as well as history. Afterall, Ethiopians have been growing Arabica coffee longer than anyone else in the world. But because of these deep roots in history, farming practices tend to come from previous centuries as well, causing many coffee farmers to struggle in creating sustainable growth. Now if we want to increase volumes of sustainable quality--and we do--then we have to engage. So in 2014, we founded the AAA Academy in Sidamo, the heart of a famous coffee-growing region in Southwestern Ethiopia.
Perhaps you’re wondering why expert farmers would need additional expertise. Why would we even try to meddle with generations and generations of farming practices? Well, if we prescribed to the notion of doing things because it’s the way it’s always been done, where would any of us be today? We wouldn’t take risks. We wouldn’t try and fail and try again. We wouldn’t find solutions. And though Ethiopia is the largest producer of Arabica coffee in Africa, placing coffee as an important livelihood for more than 1.2 million smallholder farmers, the coffee market is facing numerous challenges like poverty amongst farmers, lack of investment in coffee quality, and environmental degradation.
And so we engage. At the core of the AAA Academy is the desire to equip farmers with today’s best agricultural practices to increase farm level productivity and resilience. Never forget that these farmers have tradition running through their veins--they handle their crop the same way their parents did, and their parents before them. But a love of the land, as well as their livelihood, are at the forefront of all they do. And this is where we share the same heart.
At the core of the AAA Academy is the desire to equip farmers with today’s best agricultural practices to increase farm level productivity and resilience.
Now how do we do this? We believe that the greatest way to incentivize learning is by showing results, and the greatest way of learning is by doing. Our 19-month training curriculum focuses on best agricultural practices in order to improve quality and productivity through the use of coffee ‘demoplots’ to train farmers in real-life conditions. These farmers are learning first-hand, under the care of a AAA agronomist. The agronomists, who are young men and women selected and trained from the local community, show how something as simple as composting, stumping, and pruning can produce exponentially positive results.
Through these ‘demoplots” farmers are seeing the proof with their own eyes; their rejuvenated trees are growing back strong and healthy, bearing more fruit than ever before. Seeing this proof sparks a contagious atmosphere; farmers are beginning to speak to one another, to share success stories, and focus on these new practices. And when the AAA agronomists go back to visit the farmers they have trained, the outcomes are more than astonishing, they are long-lasting.
Through these ‘demoplots” farmers are seeing the proof with their own eyes; their rejuvenated trees are growing back strong and healthy, bearing more fruit than ever before.
In the village of Hunkute, there is a young AAA Agronomist named Kebabuoh who is known for her ability to convince farmers to stump their trees and risk the loss of everything they own, just on her word. She is 24. Her practical knowledge paired with her confidence has paved a way for local farmers to begin yielding more crop again. Kebabuoh took us to a garden full of stumped coffee trees belonging to a farmer named Chochere Gatcheno. Chochere works alongside his entire family, and since his initial guidance from Kebabuoh he is stumping more and more trees on his one hectare of land. Why? Because the proof is in the numbers. To put it simply, he is producing more coffee than ever before.
When asked how he felt the first time he stumped a tree, his response wasn’t surprising. Fear. But that’s also the beauty in it. Chochere saw a need, he found support, he took a risk, and now he is reaping the benefits of taking that leap of faith alongside the trained AAA Agronomists.
Our ambitions for this program are no small feat, but the tangible outcomes and encouraging stories like Kebabuoh’s are what keep us going. For us, success isn’t only about growing the highest quality coffee for you, it’s about ensuring that those who are growing it, the people and the land, are invested in and empowered for the sake of progress and sustainability for generations to come. At Nespresso, this is how we engage.