GCP Brazil interviewed João Paulo Custódio de Brito, Sustainability Coordinator of Exportadora de Café Guaxupé, a major Brazilian coffee trader for over 50 years, to find out how the GCP Member Initiative on “Responsible Use of Agrochemicals” currently performs in the country and especially with the farmers who are currently being trained.
João Paulo was direct on his assessment of Exportadora Guaxupé’s Membership and its impact on their business: “When we became a GCP Member, we already knew our suppliers’ main difficulties, but we lacked the proper tools and actions that could support us to address obstacles”. He refers to the set of tools based in the Coffee Sustainability Curriculum (CSC) developed over the past years by the Brazil Coffee Sustainability Platform (GCP Brazil) to understand and measure sustainability challenges seeking meaningful impact to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers and workers.
For João Paulo, those tools enabled growth and awareness to his team “we were able to assess the coffee farmers’ main problems, in addition to comparing them with neighbourhoods, regions, state and country. We also rely on other Platform’s tools as the Internal Management System (IMS) for sustainability that enables the whole team to develop short, medium and long-term actions, based on reports from the CSC App”.
Exportadora Guaxupé is also a partner of the “Responsible Use of Agrochemicals” Member Initiative, focused on disseminating the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the correct return of packaging and the building of suitable units to storage agrochemicals among its growers/partners. GCP Members have joined efforts to tackle two main issues: soil conservation and improvement of labour conditions on the main Brazilian Arabica, Conilon/Robusta coffee producing states (Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Espírito Santo, Paraná and Rondônia).
João Paulo sees the need to address these issues collectively instead of venturing into isolated efforts that do help farmers but can’t work efficiently at a bigger scale: “We know that the challenges in coffee are huge: we face issues like high labour costs, poor application and usage of pesticides, generational succession and others. However, knowing that they exist allows us to strengthen the work with the GCP Brazil team in order to make our region and, consequently, our country a reference in sustainable coffee, and more aware of the economic, social and environmental responsibilities.”
Exportadora Guaxupé’s Sustainability Coordinator also referred to the new tools and training included in the Collective Action Initiatives: “We’ve learned that it is possible to empower coffee farmers and their understanding by stimulating and discussing critical situations in small groups. This method is quite useful since it allows coffee farmers to discuss difficulties and find solutions among them, through awareness creation and access to information”.
The field team is also involved in the Informed Grower Program, which includes sustainable agricultural practices based on the Brazilian CSC. “This project helped us to have practical lessons with the growers, applying all of the sustainable methods on the field”, says João Paulo, “this way, we are inside the property where we can notice the supplier’s needs, apply the CSC on site and look for solutions to solve problems.”
Exportadora de Café Guaxupé trades around 1.5 million coffee bags (60kg) per year and counts on 2,500 partners mainly from the South Minas and Mogiana Paulista regions. It also buys coffee from all Arabica producing regions in Brazil.
While the Brazil Coffee Sustainability Platform focuses on creating innovative solutions to overcome challenges in sustainability, the CSC and other tools are available for all associated members and partners in the country.
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If you want to be part of Brazil’s coffee revolution, get in touch with the Pedro Ronca, GCP Brazil Manager, for further information.