We have knowledge now and this is essential. We have new contacts, new business partners, we have seen the outside world.
Wilson Pedroso Lima is a Fairtrade coffee farmer at UNIPASV cooperative in Brazil, and features on the front cover of our new Annual Report. Here he tells his story.
I’ve been working in the coffee fields for the past 12 years. I used to be a tenant, but three years ago I bought my plot. I was born and raised in the countryside. I have a son aged 17 and a daughter who is 11. The boy works with me. He likes to work in the field.
I am a founding member of UNIPASV cooperative. When the cooperative was created, 70 percent of members were tenants and sharecroppers. Today, after 10 years, everyone owns their own plots. This has happened to people who had nothing.
I started producing Fairtrade coffee a year ago. We produced 40 bags as Fairtrade and almost all of them were sold. The cooperative uses the Fairtrade Premium money for social benefits as well as for the cooperative. We renovated and expanded the office, bought a farm vehicle, built a garage, and have offered more comfort to the members.
What has changed in my life and the lives of people here? I think that we have knowledge and this is essential. We have new contacts, new business partners, we have seen the outside world. I never imagined that me, a farmer from the South of Minas, would be able to travel to another country. We have learnt things about coffee too. Sometimes you might think you already know everything about coffee, but a consumer can teach us, give us ideas to improve the taste, the flavour. We thought coffee was the same everywhere, but it’s not. I also discovered coffee from other countries too.
I would like to say to consumers out there that we Brazilian farmers are producing a good quality product. We produce our coffee now with the awareness that we need to care for people’s health. Today I use 70 percent less pesticides than before, and production has increased. With this knowledge we can produce more and spend less.
I hope in future I can continue living and working here, living off the coffee fields, because it is not easy. I hope my children can study, which I could not do. I hope everything works out, we’re trying. Surely I see my son working here. I’m doing this for him; we are opening the opportunities for him to work here in the future.
This photo was taken in June 2012. © Didier Gentilhomme.