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The founder of fair trade

By 27 april, 2023maj 11th, 2023No Comments
Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma, grundare av handelsprincipen Fair Trade håller i en Eguale kaffemugg

We have received a greeting from Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma in Mexico, who created and developed fair trade as a basis for the Mexican cooperative UCIRI, which is also one of the partners in Eguale. Here, Francisco shares his thoughts on the impact of climate change at the Uciri coffee cooperative and the future of coffee. Where today they face significant challenges in the villages, such as keeping young people interested in agriculture.

How are you Francisco Van der hoff Boersma? How is family and life in Mexico?

– I am doing well – despite being 83 years old, I try to maintain a reasonable level of health by reducing my workload.

Life in Mexico is challenging especially lately with the total transformation of the government, which is more aware of the real problems of society and the promotion of big projects, which concern old age pension for all, a pension for the disabled, support for all students from kindergarten to university.

In addition to that, there are also important projects in our region, which provide work and which try to reduce the development gap between North and South, mostly Indian areas, which have been underdeveloped for a long time.

How is UCIRI doing? How have you been affected by the pandemic and the ongoing inflation?

– UCIRI is now recovering from losses following the attack of coffee rust (roya) in 2016 which caused a 90% reduction in harvest. To prevent future damage, farmers need to grow more resistant coffee varieties that take time to mature and bear fruit, such as geisha and oro azteca. Which requires solid endurance.

The two earthquakes in 2017 where many farmers lost their homes in whole or in part and Uciri part of the infrastructure. The pandemic has caused serious problems, not so much infection (the villages took drastic measures, closed the access road to the villages. Communication was completely broken and caused a shortage of food in the villages. UCIRI could not have the usual monthly meeting, but now the situation is back to ”normal” .


"By developing fair trade, we have tackled social injustices as well as the problem of the survival of the planet. Everything is interconnected."

Francisco van der Hoff Boersma
UCIRI kaffekooperativ i Mexico

Can you share some set goals for UCIRI – how did 2022 go?

– Our goals for 2022 were to support the replanting of coffee fields and establish new products in lower areas where coffee production is no longer feasible due to climate change, longer dry periods and increased temperatures. The new product introduced was cocoa, which is more resilient in the current climate.

UCIRI started a project to plant plants and trees, including coffee and cocoa plants, fruit trees and firewood, through Conservation International. The goal is to plant 3 million plants and trees within three years. UCIRI also implemented a local market for coffee end products.

UCIRI sold approximately 70,000 kilos of coffee locally in 2022. To secure food in families, they implemented a program that provided a small subsidy of $150 to plant an entire garden for family vegetable gardens. The first results of 230 gardens are promising and are a project run mainly by women.

The 2022 harvest – was it a good year compared to the previous year?

– The harvest increased slightly after previous years’ disasters. The new plants bear more fruit and also implement better organic nutrients.

Many years ago, drinking coffee was considered a luxury.

Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma
UCIRI kaffekooperativ i Mexico