The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory (Qld, NSW and the ACT) invites coffee lovers and social justice advocates to support Salvos Coffee. Salvos Coffee is a social enterprise that has operated in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands for more than seven years; the proceeds of every bag sold goes directly into the Salvos Coffee program, providing ‘support services for remote, marginalised coffee growers and their families.
Salvos Coffee’s farmers grow ‘the best quality coffee at high altitudes’, hence a coffee that is less acidic and bitter in its flavour. ‘Due to the rich volcanic soils in this area chemical fertilisers are an unnecessary expense,’ Salvos Coffee declares. ‘Pesticides are not needed and most farmers prefer a bush knife and some elbow grease to chemical weed killers.’
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Click here for the Salvos Coffee website
Click here to order coffee from Salvos Coffee
e-connect spoke with Luke Soper, TSA AET’s Papua New Guinea business development manager.
Salvos Coffee is a program designed to help raise money to sustain isolated Papua New Guinean communities. It helps to provide health services, literacy, financial and agriculture training, and community support. The 700 growers, in cooperative set ups in villages, represent about 3,000 people.
No support funding for this coming financial year has been identified beyond the potential November round of World Bank grants.
On pursuit of fair trade certification
Luke Soper: We are working on fair trade certification. With 700 members it is a complex process; getting certified. Our field officers, employees, for whom funding concludes at the end of June, are nominally showing growers the information and helping with financial literacy and better growing methods.
On the financial remuneration of growers
LS: We stand in the gap for the people we work with, to try to ensure they get a fair price for their goods and labour. That is our first step and our initial goal. The second step is much more problematic; how do we make this sustainable over the long-term for them?
These are folks who, before we engaged with them, would walk down the mountains with the coffee beans on their back for two days, and get to a roadside where they would get ripped off by passers-by. We are holding money in good faith for them in a passbook system, as many of them don’t have proof of identity or birth certificates or any of the process required by banking institutions.
The Salvation Army release profits to the growers as and when they want it. It’s a work in progress.
On the coffee grown, and those who grow it
LS: The growers use non-chemical, organic growing methods and the altitude they grow the beans at means that the yield is less acidic or bitter.
Community endorsement is vital for this project to succeed. We try to establish a rapport with the village head man, and individuals and growers. Without good will and cooperation we can’t make headway.
We facilitate the growers’ processes and try to ensure they get better crops and better returns for their hard work – and we try to give better educational opportunities so that the growers and their communities know how to invest their returns.
There are many challenges in the communities and families we work with, including violence and domestic and family violence. Amnesty International estimates that it is an issue in two out of three households in the PNG highlands.
So, questions of resolving conflict and managing anger are essential questions in how we interact and encourage them to interact.