Coffee cooperative members in Timor Leste struggle to make a living. Their coffee is wanted around the world, but because they live in high mountainous areas with very poor roads and little money, until recently most farmers must sell their freshly picked “red cherry” coffee berries for a low price to large companies who send trucks to collect them. Even then it’s sometimes a big journey for farmers to bring their coffee to the truck stops.
Because the fresh fruit is unprocessed it cannot be stored. Cooperative members want to process their own organic red cherry coffee to green bean stage so they can export high quality beans directly to Fair Trade buyers. To achieve this CSALT, the business arm of coffee producing cooperatives, is working with Fair Trade NZ/Australia to get Fair Trade certification. Producers will also receive more training in pruning and picking, processing and drying for quality. At the moment, all red cherry is put in the truck together and paid the same regardless of quality.
Cooperativa Socialadade Agricola e Logistica (CSALT)
CSALT has grown out of Sociedade Agricola Logistica (SAL), the marketing arm of MCE-A which was established to identify and market cooperative produce.
SAL identifies consumer needs and market opportunities such as organic rice. It also:
- Links rice farmers to buyers such as the government which is being lobbied to provide a regular market for local rice.
- When funding is available purchases rice and coffee and market under the SAL brand.
- Now it is expanding to be the business arm of the coffee cooperatives, with appointment of a manager and a big development plan to increase Fair Trade Organic Coffee production, processing and marketing so as to improve the livelihoods of the producers.