By Gabriela Albuja
At Canopy Bridge we know that meeting suppliers in the field makes a big difference for companies looking to source sustainable, natural products. To help support direct-trade relationship building we launched a contest together with the Environmental Defense Fund at the end of 2017, which offered small grants to help firms co-finance sourcing trips to 10 countries in Latin America. These travel grants were made possible thanks to the United States Agency for International Development under the Accelerating Inclusion and Mitigating Emissions Program which seeks to support private sector engagement with producers who are on the front lines of combating deforestation.
Great candidates presented their proposals and after a thorough evaluation process by judges from Canopy Bridge and the Environmental Defense Fund. We are happy to announce our three outstanding winners!
- Original Beans: An award winning conservation and chocolate company in the Netherlands with the mission of encouraging forest protection in high biodiversity areas and promoting varieties of fine flavor cocoa and chocolate. With our support, Original Beans will be visiting Arhuaco cocoa producers in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in northern Colombia, where they will work with partners in the field to help secure organic certification and negotiate purchases of cacao for 2018. As part of the grant, Original Beans will also be visiting Zoque and Tzotzil cacao farmers in Chiapas and Tabasco, in Mexico, where they will be negotiating cacao purchases as well as implementing cacao reforestation and agroforestry projects together with Agrofloresta Mesoamericana.
- Trees, Water &People: An award-winning nonprofit, founded in 1998, TWP’s mission is to improve people’s lives by helping communities better conserve, manage, and protect the natural resources upon which their livelihoods depend. They will visit community leaders of three rural coffee-growing communities living adjacent to Montecillos Biological Reserve in central Honduras in order to observe current coffee cultivation practices and continue their work of diversifying the local shade canopy after a devastating pine beetle epidemic in the region. Coffee roaster, Jackie Harris, from Jackie’s Java will join the visit to analyze the coffee quality and potentially negotiate purchases. For every pound of coffee roasted and sold by Jackie’s Java from these three communities, Trees, Water & People would receive USD5 as a donation for sustainable development projects in the region.
- Royal Coffee Inc.: A US family-owned and operated importer of specialty green coffees that supports the development of rainforest ecological systems and farming communities through the purchase of certified coffee. Royal Coffee will use the grant to make a sourcing visit to Rainforest Alliance Organic certified producers in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Huila, Colombia. The visits and potential purchase would be done through InConexus, a Colombian company that encourages fair and sustainable coffee trade, with more than 10,000 farmers from Huila, Nariño, Tolima, Sierra Nevada, Serranía del Perijá, Santander and Cauca.