STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 1

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32 STiR tea & coffee industry international A By Kelly Stein great espresso or cappuccino made with specialty coffee beans from Colom- bia's high mountains is a ray of hope for social, economic and political change. This is possible thanks to a partnership between the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) and the government of Antioquia, a 25,000 square mile region (64,000 km 2 ) where violence and corruption was once widespread. At its height, the Medellin Cartel in Antioquia's capital smuggled $60 million of cocaine a day. Vio- lence in this northwestern portion of the country has been curbed due to strong lead- ership and a community educational program strategically conceived to restore order. How does it work? The FNC's technical expertise in growing coffee allied with the government's political determination to change Antioquia's coffee industry in a posi- tive way. Together they instituted programs like Quality Coffee Contests; an empha- sis on growing more lucrative specialty coffee and introduced the Educational Parks (Parques Educativos) program where lectures and demonstrations on the cultivation and production of specialty coffee has given momentum to growers who wish to pro- duce quality coffee. There are 85,271 coffee producing families in Antioquia. The educational program offers hands-on training with courses in horticulture, processing, and lectures on the science of coffee. Participants are encouraged to exchange information. "Coffee is our culture, our essence, our personality and it has been crucial for the state development," said Sergio Fajardo, Antioquia's governor and the former mayor of Medellin, a city with a metro population of 3.7 million, the second largest in Colom- bia. According to Fajardo the Specialty Coffee program in Antioquia is one of the main strategies for the development of the state. The coffee numbers in Antioquia are impressive. There are 125 municipalities in the department of which 94 dedicate their economic activities to coffee production. There are 132,812 hectares under coffee and 113,911 coffee farms. As a first step, Fajardo instructed his team to map every inch of the department to better understand its potential. An intensive collaboration with three different universi- ties – Nacional, Eatfit and Pontificia Bolivariana – concluded that coffee is the com- mon denominator among Antioquian families. Coffee: An Engine for Social Transformation ANTIOQUIA, Colombia Coffee education programs target the young, Colombia's nueva generación. Colombia growers believe the future of coffee production can only be assured by training the coming generation. Coffee is much more than aroma, body, acidity, sweetness, or bitterness on the tongue for families that produce coffee in Colombia. Coffee Camp participant Alejandro Zapata Granados, 15, hopes to one day be a roaster and export his products.

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