March 1st am Bogotá Time.
As many of you are aware, events in Colombia this week have become more complex.
A group of about 40,000 to 60,000 farmers (coffee growers, cocoa producers and peasants from other sectors) are currently on strike in different regions of the country as an expression of concerns primarily of falling international prices and appreciation of the Colombian currency. Thus, they are requesting
more government support to protect them through this juncture.
The Federation´s different bodies, its 366 Municipal Coffee Grower Committees and 15 Departmental Coffee Grower Committees, share these concerns. We have started large programs to maintain renovations of large areas with rust resistant varieties and see low prices as a deterrent to continue this process at the
pace we have been able to achieve over the past few years. Thus, we have also requested the Colombian government to increase its price support in this critical juncture.
Although the Federation acknowledges and respects the producer’s right to protest, and the fact that they are indeed facing very difficult times, our body disagrees with the way the protesters have chosen to
achieve their objectives. Thus, it has urged throughout the last few days coffee growers to abstain from activities that could threaten their safety and security.
The FNC regrets and condemns violent incidents that have taken place and its impact on the daily activity of more than 500,000 coffee growers who have not joined the strike. They, as well as other Colombian
citizens and taxpayers have been affected by blockades and traffic stoppages. The FNC rejects all kinds of violence and stresses that the importance of the institution and its democratic mechanisms as means to promote and facilitate dialog and constructive discussions within the coffee growers and with the national government.
As a way to bridge a possible solution, an extraordinary Colombian coffee Grower´s Congress has been onvened for next Monday, to which coffee growers leading the protest have been invited. This event would provide a platform to reach an agreement if this cannot be reached before. From a medium to long term point of view, Colombia’s Coffee Industry is already feeling the positive effects of the FNC’s renovation with rust resistant varieties as coffee production is on the upswing. Growers produced 7.8 million bags of green coffee in 2012 and in the last 12 months that number has already increased to almost to 8.1 million.
Up until today we do not foresee large any negative effects in our current business and planning. Plants are not on strike, some growers are. While some shipments may have been delayed, most have reached seaports on time.