Colombia's National Coffee Federation & Successful Earthworm Composting

By Timothy S. Collins

Of all the countries in the world, Colombia is the only country with a "National Coffee Federation" that pays a subsidy to member farmers when international prices are low. This is how this organization provides social services, technical training, educational programs and infrastructure improvements in coffee growing regions. To fund this work, exports are heavily taxed when international prices are high.

"EXPOCAFE" is the Federation's export agency which exports about 50% of all the country's coffee and helps maintain a good balance between supply and demand. The coffee proceeds and international exposure have helped develop and finance the development of many other exports such as agricultural crops, textiles, machinery and others. The coffee business is really a very personal business that impacts thousands of people in communities across the country. The trade revenues finance rural clinics, schools, housing, community facilities, and many other infrastructure projects.

Coffee is a very important crop for the Colombian economy and to more than 560,000 coffee farms actively involved in the trade. It is interesting to know that the railroad system in Colombia and major road networks were built specifically to move coffee from the mountainous Andean slopes of Antioquia, Caldas, Quindio and other departments to the Pacific coast where ports were built to ship out the beans. This does not mean; however, that every farmer had easy access to transportation networks. The reality is the country's rugged terrain and Andean geography makes it uneconomical or nearly impossible to have roads in many places. Farmers depend on mules, donkeys, horses and other animals to help transport the crops throughout the year. This is why the iconic image of Juan Valdez and his mule Conchita is so authentic: it does reflect exactly how thousands of small scale farmers go about their business daily.

Coffee cooperatives are commonplace in Colombia as well. One example is the Asociación de Caficultores Orgánicos de Colombia (ACOC) which is dedicated to organic coffee cultivation. Something that is somewhat unique to this cooperative is that ACOC members are "masters" in the art of using earthworms to compost all the organic waste from coffee processing.

  • Composting can be defined as the biological decomposition and stabilization of organic residues by microorganisms.
  • Composting is ecologically friendly because it allows the return of the organic matter to the soils. Composting by earthworms is a special process where worms and microorganisms are involved in the decomposition process.
  • Vermicomposting, as earthworm composting is called, is a relatively new technique initially developed on a smaller scale but gaining great acceptance among organic farmers.
  • In Colombia, vermicomposting helps reduce the cost of coffee production through the near elimination of chemical fertilizers in large farms.
  • In small farms, vermicomposting is widely used. This has a very positive impact on the environment and the local economies.
  • Earthworm composting takes about three months as compared to other composting methods that take between four to five months.
  • The time savings translates into faster soil fertilization with fresh composting and the ability to add soil fertilizer several times a year.
  • The earthworms turn the pulp and all other organic matter into rich humus which is added back to the soil surrounding the root zone of the coffee trees. This is very enriching for the plants and helps produce a high quality of beans and an excellent cup.

So, ready for a delicious cup of Organic Colombian Supremo?

Timothy S. Collins
Article by Timothy S. Collins
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy." He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest. Come visit the author's website:

© Copyright - Timothy S. Collins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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