Coffee growers warn that for the robust type grain they would receive 6 pesos per kilo, that is, 30 thousand for the harvest of a whole year; while for the Arabic class the payment would be even lower and they place it at 5 pesos. The largest foreign investment so far in the sexennium faces resistances. A dozen organizations of coffee producers in Veracruz opposes the construction of a Nestlé processing plant in the state -valued at 154 million dollars-, accusing the Swiss multinational of paying low prices for aromatic, as well as causing damage environmental protection through the concentration of crops.
In coffee municipalities such as Huatusco, Tezonapa, Zongolica and Coatepec the resistance is palpable.
In the latter, more than 4,000 organized coffee farmers were the first to declare their rejection of the transnational last December, just days after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the investment in a meeting with Nestlé executives at the National Palace.
The producers of Coatepec maintain that Nestlé’s dependence on robust coffee would condemn death to the production of Arabica coffee, which dominates the region and would also force them to deforest thousands of hectares to prepare the land for new crops.
“If there is a coffee price crisis, it is because the world market is being flooded with this product. So now we are told that this solubilizing company is coming to plant 150 thousand hectares more. This would practically be the extermination of Arabic coffee, because we would be paying in future years at 4.50 pesos, 5 pesos per kilo, “fears Cirilo Elotlan, representative of the Regional Coffee Council of Coatepec.
In Huatusco the story is similar. Local producers have joined together in an incipient movement that resists the arrival of Nestlé. That is the case of Ruperto Régulo Cuacua, who was honored four months ago by Nestlé, using his photograph and that of 999 other producers in half a million bottles of Nescafé. Today it is opposed to the investment of the Swiss company.
“They did not give us anything for having gone out there,” says the 63-year-old farmer, who claims to receive only 1,500 pesos for every 250 kilos of the cherry. Of these, he pays 625 pesos to the cutter who helps him. Of that amount, 46 kilos of green coffee are obtained, of which only 18 kilos of soluble coffee are obtained.
Mathematics does not help you. To the consumer, one kilogram of the Nescafé instant costs 400 pesos, from which 500 cups of the drink are obtained; so with only 4 cans of a kilo, Nestlé pays the producer payment.
In a good year, its two hectares produce 5 tons of the robust coffee cherry, which is delivered to Agroindustrias Unidas de México, a horticultural company that pulps it and then resells it as green coffee to Nescafé. On average, the producer receives 6 pesos per kilo, so for his entire harvest he gets only 30 thousand pesos, after spending a year cultivating the aromatic, without taking into account the payment he gives to the cutter.
“I can not even work anymore, I’m going for the 64 (years) and I’m up to bad with one arm. It gives me epilepsy and nothing else will whip me. Already the bushes are high, people do not want to cut you have to pay well right now I’m paying 2.50 and walk two.
Don Ruperto must comply with the Code of Conduct 4C, promoted by Nescafé among those who provide raw materials. These are “basic requirements for the sustainable production, processing and marketing of coffee”, although they require producers to cut down their land to plant robust coffee, since it requires sun; unlike Arabic coffees grown in the shade.
Because of this inequality, coffee growers from different regions of Veracruz oppose the construction of the Nestlé plant; opposition to which more than 20 thousand coffee producers from all over the country have already joined, which towards the end of February will constitute the National Movement for the Defense of Mexican Cafeticultura, because they are also alarmed because this administration disappeared the Comprehensive Plan of Attention to the Coffee, which in 2018 had a budget of one thousand 100 million pesos. Last Thursday, January 24, they met with the Secretary of Agriculture, Víctor Villalobos, to express their concern.
“For this 2019 coffee no longer appears within this budget; initially appeared 346 million pesos but last minute everything was deleted, “criticized Ruperto.
Carlos Conde, also a producer of Coatepec, said: “We have a hard time producing. We take a labor cost of 17 and 18 thousand pesos to a hectare of coffee and we sell coffee at 6 or 5 pesos. Imagine, how much work is given to the field and how much we spend, “he said.
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