Editor’s Note: The letter on this page is from the Guatemalan National Coffee Association, Anacafé. It is a letter written in response to, and as a clarification of, an article in our most recent issue, The Coffee Trade, Nothing Fair About It, by Laura Shearer. A brief response from Ms. Shearer follows the letter from Anacafé, which has been reprinted in full and without editing.
Facts About Guatemala Coffee Production and Anacafé
Guatemala as an average produces more than 3.8 million 60 kilo bags of coffee per year that yields around, thanks to more than 90,000 coffee producers than the Guatemalan National Coffee Association – Anacafé – represents and who are registered in our Association. We appreciate this space to let your readers know some important facts about Anacafé, some of them incorrectly mentioned in the article written by Laura Shearer and published on La Cuadra March / April issue:
● Several cases are mentioned in the article, regarding the procedures and supposed experiences that some members of coffee producer’s cooperatives have gone through while trying to get their export license, unfortunately they are all anonymous. If concrete cases could be provided, we could verify them and follow up accordingly, if necessary.
● As you know, coffee can be exported in different forms (green beans, roasted, as an extract, as finished product, ready to drink – RTD -, etc.) and therefore different types of licenses can be issued, depending also if it is a registered coffee producer or not. In any event, the requisites are quite simple, clear and legal, the procedure is fast, and once the appropriate requirements are fulfilled. The rules and regulations in order to export coffee, and hence to obtain a license, are clearly stated and it does not depend on a personal decision.
● It is crucial to protect not only the buyer (importer) and exporter, but to keep the outstanding reputation of the coffee producers, exporters and Guatemalan Coffees; that is, nationally and internationally.
● ANACAFE does not buy or export coffee. We operate on a free market basis. Once again, if you have solid proof that one of our representatives or technicians is doing so, we would appreciate to know the details to take further action.
Our Association provides free of charge, technical training and assistance, cupping laboratories, internet access, web site design, experimental farming to all coffee producers registered, through all our regional offices in the country.
Furthermore, for your information we do have a foundation (www.funcafe.org) that works on three main topics in rural areas: Education, Health and Food Safety, providing services to more than 800,000 people located in rural areas near coffee production zones all over the country.
Regarding issues related to child labor, on February 2009, the Board of Directors and International Labor Organization declared an official Statement in regards to this matter: “The Guatemalan coffee producers are interested and have the best disposition to produce and to export quality coffee, free of child labor, complying with national and international regulations and recognizing children rights as a priority right for human development in our country, in an environment of competitiveness and peace culture. Our vision is have Guatemalan coffee production free of child labor”
Since Anacafe was founded in 1960, we worked to provide new services and knowledge to improve coffee production and quality. We are aware that there is plenty of room for improvement and there are several subjects to discover and to improve, but we are working hard to give our best efforts to improve the quality of life and development in the coffee regions. We do invite you and all your readers to visit our site www.anacafe.org, where a lot of information can be found, otherwise feel free to stop by any of our offices located throughout Guatemala.
Guatemalan National Coffee Association.
The Author Responds:
I appreciate Anacafé’s offer to follow-up on the cases of the cooperatives whose experiences applying for an export license I reported upon. These cooperatives, however, wish to remain anonymous. I also commend Anacafé’s intent to act on the cases I reported of Anacafé representatives offering to purchase coffee from producers. If I am able to gather more details about these cases, I will provide this to the Association.
I wish to make a correction: I reported that the cooperative from Huehuetenango applied for a producer-exporter license and that Anacafé required the cooperative to be a Sociedad Anónima and prove they had Q500,000 in capital. I since learned that this group is involved with two entities: one which applied for a producer-exporter license and one which applied for a purchaser-exporter license. It is the entity which applied for the purchaser-exporter license that was required to be a Sociedad Anónima and prove they had Q500,000 in capital. This explains why Anacafé enforced these requirements, as the purchaser-exporter license involves a capital assessment. I apologize for this error. To confirm: The entity applying for the purchaser-exporter license did become a Sociedad Anónima and raise the capital. Neither group has received a license to date.