From Opium to Coffee: Green Gold Cooperative Exports its First Container of Coffee to the European Market

From Opium to Coffee: Green Gold Cooperative Exports its First Container of Coffee to the European Market

Myanmar, 12 October 2018 - Today, the Green Gold cooperative celebrated a milestone when it exported its first container of select coffee to the European market. Its 2018 harvest came from 60 villages across Loilem, Hopong and Ywangan townships. In one community, Pan Lim, the coffee was of such a high quality, that Malongo agreed to pay a price of $8.00 USD per kilogram of green coffee beans - double the market average in Myanmar.

The achievement, while serving as a testament to the promises of sustainable alternative development, is also a remarkable steppingstone for the community of farmers in South Shan State that has made great strides in breaking its dependency on opium poppy cultivation.  "This is the day we've all dreamed of the last 3 years. We are sure European consumers will be delighted with this new aroma", said Troels Vester, UNODC Country Manager in Myanmar. 

Since its creation in 2015, Green Gold, which now comprises 968 farmers, has worked together with UNODC to acquire knowledge and expertise about the coffee business, create coffee nurseries, establish sustainable plantations and identify markets and buyers. Its success represents the culmination of 4 years of work with donors (Governments of Finland, Germany and Switzerland), partners and UNODC.

As a result, by the end of 2017, the cooperative signed a 5-year partnership agreement with the French company Malongo for the commercialisation of its harvests under fair-trade conditions. It is currently taking steps to have its own processing infrastructure for its next harvest, which will allow it to control additional steps in the value chain of coffee production.

UNODC recognises the importance of working with farmers for sustainable livelihood alternatives to opium poppy cultivation. It has recognised that any successful approach to alternative development must be holistic. In light of its understanding, UNODC has also supported farmers' obtainment of land ownership certificates, women's access to land ownership and forestry education.

It has also worked to remove the root causes of deforestation in project areas by educating farmers on sustainable forest management and reforesting 700 hectares of valuable forest species. UNODC continues to undertake all these efforts to achieve goals set in the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda: poverty reduction, hunger relief, sustainable and inclusive growth, gender equality and the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.

Further information:

UNODC Office in Myanmar

Alternative Development

Switching from opium to coffee: 1000 farmers forge a new path forward in Myanmar