In 2019 Pachamama Co-founder and President of the board of directors, Merling Preza visited Sacramento, CA and Pachamama Coffee HQ for the annual board of directors meeting. This trip was utilized to show the US growth of the company and brainstorm the next five years of impact for the company.
In video interview with Rosa Angelica Sarabia, Ms. Preza discussed the vision behind Pachamama Coffee and the difference this business model has for coffee farming families.
Q: How is the Pachamama business model different from other organizations?
A:Pachamama Coffee’s model is unique. First of all because the farmers are the owners of Pachamama Coffee. This not only generates wealth for our families and our communities, but also provides dignity. We are the owners in the entire coffee chain, so it provides dignity for the farmer. This is one of the main things: as farmers, we know what is happening in the market, it is our product from our hands to the consumer.
Pachamama is a dream turned into reality thanks to the effort of what I call an alliance between collaborators of Pachamama Coffee, the farmers and our cooperatives. Pachamama is a unique model for the small farmers in the market.
For us, it is a process of development. We have worked to invest in our communities, in our families, in our fields. This model goes beyond a fair price. It does generate a better cost/profit/price and it also inspires people to produce a better quality product that we ourselves will put on the market. In turn, this model means better living conditions for our people through our cooperatives and organizing farmers.
Q: What does this change look like for families?
A:For us, the difference by selling in the fair trade market is primarily because in our communities there is a lack of access to services, access to education, access to health services, people have to travel for these, and many times they have no resources to do so.
With programs that we have developed, we are able to provide this access, our partners can go to the doctor. We generate these types of campaigns. We also have programs like, “Studying with coffee,” where students learn through a foundation of good values. We have scholarships for the youth, and that begins to better the quality of life for our people.
The other focus is food security. With climate change, there are times where production is low, there is not enough revenue. We work towards making sure that people have access to food always, to making sure that there is always food on the table.
It is hard for people who always have food on the table to understand, but in putting themselves in the shoes of our farmer families and thinking of having to say, “Today I cannot give you all the bread and all the milk, I will give you half.” It is the difference between eating and not eating. With the cooperative model, a fair price, this allows farmers to have food on the table.
Q: Can you talk about the coffee crisis and how climate change is impacting small scale farmers?
A:The coffee crisis has lasted two, three years. It began with low prices, a price crisis, one of the worst price depressions in the past years. What does that mean? It means farmers sell their product for less, less revenue to farmers, less income for our families, lower capacity to maintain our land, lower capacity to buy food, less chances to guarantee access to health and education.
Climate change, the quality of life of our farmers, and quality of the product is also part of this crisis. This crisis affects everyone, the farmer and the consumer, because if the coffee is not well attended, it will not be of high quality.
Climate change also affects the way farmers work and care for the production. Our cooperatives are making an effort to take care of our environment, to continue producing high quality organic coffee. This requires an exchange of quality: we put out a good quality product, take care of the environment, have social quality, and in turn we receive the fair value for our product and a better quality of life for our farmers. This is the challenge: How do we achieve this in a price crisis, how can we better sell our coffee and that added value manifest in a better quality of life for our farmer families? Pachamama Coffee is one way to do it.
Q: How does buying from Pachamama Coffee as a consumer help the farmer?
A: Pachamama is part of the solution to the market crisis. Whoever buys Pachamama Coffee is contributing to the development of our communities, and contributing to growing a model where farmers are empowered.
Coffee is a way of life, a way of life for our families. Behind each cup of coffee there is a family. We cannot see coffee on its own, but as part of a whole.
Consumers who choose Pachamama Coffee is doing their part to change the world, contributing to the sustainability of our world in general, to changing relationships, to the sustainability of our environment, to the lives of our families and their own life, because Pachamama is a clean product, an organic product. Choosing Pachamama makes a difference .
We, as producers, are the owners of Pachamama. The making of the Pachamama business model has taken us more time, it is a different model, it is a model that empowers, a model that gives value. We are the owners of this coffee and of this brand. Pachamama is ours.
You can view another excerpt from this interview here: