Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand has been working with small-scale farmers across a range of commodities – coffee, cocoa, coconuts, sugar and vanilla – in the Pacific since 2006. Our work has been focussed on supporting these farmers to form strong farmer organisations, build their capacity to trade sustainably, access international Fairtrade markets and connect them with buyers.
Over the years, as part of our efforts to connect growers with buyers we have invited trading partners to join us on field visits to enable them to experience firsthand the farming realities that our producer partners face and how Fairtrade has benefited them – with an aim to forge lasting trading partnerships.
Kokako have been exceptional in their commitment to their coffee farmers. Having been on two field trips to the Highlands Organic Agricultural Cooperative (HOAC) in 2013 and 2015 the Kokako team have seen the impact of Fairtrade in the coffee growing communities of the Purosa Valley in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. The Fairtrade Premium has been democratically invested in the building of schools, clean water projects, coffee pulpers to improve quality, planting nurseries, as well as rehabilitation of a coffee mill in the region. For many companies, knowing that their purchases through Fairtrade is delivering impact is reassurance enough, but Kokako have been keen to do more to deepen their relationship with HOAC farmers.
During Kokako’s most recent visit in late 2015, they ran a roasting and cupping session of various clusters of HOAC’s coffee at origin. Despite growing coffee for many years, HOAC members had never roasted and tasted the coffee themselves. The idea behind the exercise was to help the farmers experience the relationship between the coffee bean and the cup and share their knowledge and expertise on what coffee roasters and coffee lovers are looking for in the perfect cup of coffee.
It was on this visit that Kokako came across an exceptional coffee and met its grower – James ‘Papa’ Kinne – who had mastered the cultivation of coffee on the rich volcanic soils of the Purosa region. Kokako were keen to showcase Papa Kinne’s coffee as a single origin specialty coffee and encourage other members to adapt some of the practices in place on Papa Kinne’s model farm. With the willingness and support of HOAC and John Burton’s Coffee Importers, the results of this endeavour have made it to the shores of New Zealand in the form of Kokako Purosa Estate Single Origin.
Fairtrade ANZ, Kokako and HOAC have been working and learning together to find ways to continually improve on the development of premium quality coffee that sets expectations of sustainable trade between Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Fairtrade ANZ’s Senior Producer Support Officer, Will Valverde, noted how wonderful it is to see how building relationships along the supply chain can lead to new opportunities.
“It’s very rewarding, not only to witness the support given by the Kokako team with their expertise and commitment to this group of farmers, but also to witness the response and progress made by HOAC members to ensure they are doing everything they can to adopt the best coffee growing practices,” says Valverde.
“Farmers just need the opportunity to do what they do best – to grow speciality coffee, sustainably and democratically.”
Just like an exceptional coffee that is deep and rich in flavour and whose cherries were nurtured and cultivated with due care and attention, the relationship between Kokako and the farmers of HOAC continues to deepen and evolve in the pursuit of perfection.