on the ground


Fair trade doesn't just mean guaranteeing a purchase price to small producers; it also involves a direct commitment to these producers in order to help them improve their growing of coffee. This means travelling to the sites on a regular basis, being attentive to producers' requests, and also to the political and economic context in which they live. Finally, Fair Trade means helping producers acquire the infrastructure that will allow them to survive, along with their families, in plantation areas.



UCIRI: A 15-year partnership


This community, located in the Chiapas Mountains in Mexico, brings together 2,500 small growers and 55 different Indian communities. The arabica plantations are at an altitude of 2,500 meters, and the coffee is grown according to organic standards. The income generated by Fair Trade has allowed the creation of two bus routes, a health clinic, a bank and an organic agriculture school. It has also allowed the community to invest in economic diversification projects to prevent rural flight.

Rombouts' cafés immediately began using coffee from the UCIRI Cooperative because of the quality of its coffee and of its development projects. During each visit, we realise once again that Fair Trade brings with it ongoing development.

Father Frans Van der Hoff (see photo), the Dutchman who founded this cooperative and co-founded the Max Havelaar seal of approval, still lives with and helps the indigenous peoples in developing the cooperative.



Last visit: Venezuela


In December, we went to Venezuela to visit three cooperatives and study the quality of the various coffees, right where they grow. This visit focused on Biscucuy, Guarico, la Quebrada Azul and Asopotroy.

We were able to taste high-quality coffees and we saw the changes that Fair Trade has made in Quebrada Azul, such as the implementation of an administrative body and improved infrastructure. This cooperative was founded with the help of Bart Pauwel, who is originally from Ghent, Belgium, and is a Fair Trade and Organic certifier.

Jean Jacques Perriot, a professor at CIRAD (the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development), was our travelling companion for a part of the trip. This cooperation focuses on a development project with producers in Biscucuy, aimed at improving the quality of their coffee and implementing a Controlled Origin Certification.



Despite the existing export restrictions in Venezuela, Rombouts is attempting to establish a partnership with the cooperatives that were visited.




Together with Malongo:

Haiti: Entrepreneurial Solidarity


For several years now, Haiti has suffered from a catastrophic economic and political situation. This country, considered by the United Nations to be one of the least developed in the world, has been severely depleted by these conditions. And yet, Haiti could produce extremely high-quality coffee and could become an important producer nation.

Moreover, the Haitian population, 50% of which is under the age of 15, suffers from high rates of unemployment. Malongo, a subsidiary of Rombouts, is concentrating on these two aspects: boosting the cultivation of coffee and providing aid for the development of health and social programs.

Access to site Malongo Haïti.