In keeping with an annual tradition started back in 2009, today I publish my third annual preview of “don’t miss” SCAA presentations. This year, I divide my picks into two “streams of enlightenment” — “downstream” presentations that push knowledge of origin toward the marketplace, and “upstream” presentations that bring market intelligence to farmers and agencies like ours that accompany them at origin. A few, identified here as presentations critical to our “shared future,” defy such easy categorization — in my experience, a sure sign they will be well worth attending.
These presentations hold unique promise to raise the industry’s “origin IQ.” They are delivered by growers and others who have the privilege to live at origin or spend a lot of time working there.
EXPO DAY 1 – FRIDAY, 20 APRIL
- One Year Later: Hunger in the Coffeelands — How Can We Help? Whereas last year’s premiere of the documentary After the Harvest effectively focused the industry’s attention on the issue of seasonal hunger in the coffeelands, this panel proposes to identify promising efforts to address the issue. Moderated by Green Mountain’s Rick Peyser, whose leadership around this issue is worthy of note. C124.
- Microfinance Miracles: A Starting Point for Me. Awareness of microfinance spiked back in 2006 when the Nobel Peace Prize went to Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and godfather of microfinance. But the field has continued to evolve since then, and remains an important complement to other approaches to fighting poverty. This session promises a welcome introduction for beginners/refresher for others. Location TBA.
EXPO DAY TWO – SATURDAY, 21 APRIL
- Defining Critical Issues at Origin. According to the public summary of the presentation, “The SCAA Sustainability Council has identified 12 issues that must be part of our industry’s conversation everyday.” Diverse stakeholders in the specialty coffee industry address them. I am the weak link on this panel, which otherwise includes an impressive array of coffee professionals, including the eminent and always-entertaining James Hoffman of Square Mile Roasters in London. B114 + 115.
- Man’s Land, Man’s Crop: Gender Equity and Coffee Development. Andrew Sargent from the Neumann Foundation addresses an important issue that is broadly under-appreciated: the way that intra-household differences between men and women (including needs, capabilities and power asymmetries) can be critical determinants of development outcomes among smallholder families. B111 + 112
- Changing with Climate Change: Helping Growers Adapt to a Changing Environment. A senior researcher from CIAT, a managing director from Ecom and a field officer from UTZ Certified discuss current efforts to help coffee farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change. CIAT is a CRS partner that has made important contributions to the climate change discussion by quantifying the likely impacts of climate change on coffee productivity and quality; we have worked together to bring this information to smallholder farmers to help inform their adaptation strategies. B111 + 112.
- Do Microlots Matter to Producers? Counter Culture Coffee is making a habit of breaking new ground in the industry around issues of transparency, and its Sustainability Director Kim Elena Ionescu of making courageous and provocative presentations at SCAA. Last year at Symposium she asked the industry’s thought leaders some hard questions about transparency and accountability in the area of environmental sustainability, and this year she will present the results of a microlot impact study that answers the question posed in the presentation’s title — an important contribution to the discussion around microlots and Direct Trade. B116.
- Waste Not, Want Not: Water at Origin & Coffee Processing. The title of this presentation, delivered by some of my CRS colleagues based in Central America, tells only part of the story. As the title suggests, it will present some of our recent experiences with post-harvest technologies that reduce water use, improve wastewater treatment and disposal, and contribute to improved water quality in coffee communities. What the title doesn’t say is that it will also present our vision of integrated water resource management in coffee-growing watersheds, including two short documentaries on how sustainable coffee agroforestry and multistakeholder coordination in the coffeelands are aligning commercial and environmental interests to increase water supply, improve water quality and create economic opportunities. A106.
EXPO DAY THREE – Sunday, 22 April
- Coffee and Honey: A Sweet Combination Three apiculture experts share insights from the field on the benefits of beekeeping for smallholder farmer income and productivity as they continue to build a collaborative movement to expand the integration of beekeeping in sustainable coffee agroforestry systems. A106.
These sessions are the domain of the market mavens who push the outer edges of the frontier of innovation. I am recommending them to colleagues and partners from Latin America as “don’t-miss” opportunities to expand their market intelligence.
EXPO DAY 1 – FRIDAY, 20 APRIL
- From Seed to Roaster. While this lecture may be pitched more toward the market end of the chain, it will be helpful for farmers and the NGOs that support them to hear what a leading importer is looking for at origin. B116.
- State of Specialty. The eminent Daniele Giovannucci and SCAA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart deliver a “state of the industry” presentation. Location TBA.
- Ask the Green Buyer. An annual favorite. Some of the biggest names in the industry gather to share — in Spanish — what they look for in sourcing their coffee. Putting this one on the calendar is no-brainer for smallholder farmers. B114 + 115.
- The “C” Market & Hedging Tools. Understanding the market, sources of volatility and the tools available to hedge your risk regardless of where you are on the coffee chain. A105.
Presentations that are as relevant at origin as they are in the marketplace.
SYMPOSIUM DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY, 18 APRIL
- Strengthening the Supply Chain. The first day of Symposium 2012 is dominated by two sessions — more than three hours in total — devoted to strengthening the supply chain. Featuring expert perspectives from the diverse sectors — industry, finance, donors and government — whose collaboration is necessary to build more inclusive and sustainable coffee supply chains.
EXPO DAY 1- SATURDAY, 21 APRIL
- Innovations in Sustainability: Meet the Sustainability Award Winner. The annual SCAA Sustainability Award creates an opportunity to celebrate and learn from other successful experiences at origin, and to understand what the industry’s Sustainability Council considers innovative in this area. C124.
EXPO DAY 3 – SUNDAY, 22 APRIL
- Opening Up the Relationship: Exploring True Relationship Coffee. By now, the variants of relationship-driven coffee in the marketplace are too many to count. This presentation promises new insights particularly into the resource implications of direct, relationship-based trade. B114 + 115.
- Varietal Development and the Future of Quality. The industry has set quality standards are high and rising, and invested significantly in efforts to expand the supply of quality coffee through World Coffee Research. Against this backdrop, it is important for everyone along the chain, from growers to retailers, to understand what is involved in the development of new cultivars that are high-yielding, disease resistant and perform in the cup. B116.