How could Nestlé ensure its coffee supply from the 25,000 growers who tend around 60,000 hectares of robusta coffee beans? If these farmers can’t earn a sustainable income with coffee they might turn to para rubber trees or palm oil in the years when coffee prices are lower than average and supply could be endangered. Obviously, our team needed to find ways to help coffee growers lower costs and improve profits while at the same time engaging in responsible farming.
NESCAFÉ will continue to help Thai farmers improve coffee sustainability via education and training. We’d like to thank the following organizations for their continued support in this endeavour: Nestlé Research Centre in Tours (France), The Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and The Doi Tung Development Project under Royal Initiative.
If we could find the best coffee plants for the region, we would be sure to help farmers maximise their crops. We tested 25 top-quality varieties of robusta coffee plants at the Chumphon Horticulture Research Centre in order to select the best one for each specific environment. As a result of this research, more than 600 farmers bought planting materials that should give them twice the yield of their present ones, representing a considerable increase in income.
To improve cultivation techniques, we offered two Thai scientists full training at the Nestlé Research Centre in Tours, France to learn responsible agriculture techniques they could apply at their own research centre in Thailand. This training helped them distribute the best coffee plantlets to growers as well as to improve irrigation management and pruning techniques. They also encouraged Thai farmers to adopt more responsible practices such as reducing chemical use, making compost of coffee husks instead of burning them, and planting vertiver grass to protect against soil erosion.
We also set up 3 learning centres, 37 demo plots and training classes on 250 farms to demonstrate responsible agricultural practices to farmers. And to reach out to those growers who are too far away to benefit from these opportunities, Nestlé coffee agronomists pay regular visits to them on their plantations. We provide bulletins, leaflets, calendars, field excursions, and soil analysis. In addition, coffee growers in the south also receive frequent useful information from 4 radio stations.
As sustainability also requires an investment in the future, we encouraged farmers to bring their pre-sorted coffee beans directly to us by setting up our own local buying stations. Not only does this help them avoid middle-men, it also allows them to get higher prices for their best quality beans.