La Paz (Bolivia), 14 January 2021 — The beneficiaries of the UNODC supported coffee export project in La Asunta in Bolivia received their initial payment for the export of their high-quality beans to France. In a ceremony in the community of La Asunta coffee producers and UNODC staff celebrated this achievement.
The grassroots project was launched in 2018 by the community of La Asunta, with the technical assistance of UNODC and the financial support of France.
Mr. Rafael Andia Sarmiento, the president of the local association for agroecological producers "El Mirador" (AIPAEM), expressed his gratitude for the support received. He took note of Bolivia's current social context — where the spread of COVID-19 represents a threat not just to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities, but to their local economies. Mr. Andia Sarmiento thanked UNODC on behalf of association members for the Organization's ongoing support.
This successful project is the result of a joint initiative between the La Asunta community, UNODC and France, to reactivate local coffee exports. After a 15-year hiatus in the local coffee industry, a total of 207 bags —equivalent to 12,420 kilos— of high-quality coffee beans were finally exported last year. Destined for the French, Belgian and Swiss markets, the fruits of their labor generated a profit of 41,000 USD for the community.
Today, around 600 families from La Asunta work together alongside UNODC in pursuit of an ambitious goal: to regularly export 20 shipping containers worth of coffee to Europe every year, over the next five years.
By revitalizing the local industry, the project is improving the quality of life of coffee producers. The initiative provides regular employment and a source of income; while fostering peace by providing a viable alternative to surplus coca production.
The importer of these high-quality coffee beans is the Malongo company based in Nice, France. They source beans from local producers worldwide and roast more than 8,000 tons of coffee every year.
Malongo is famed for its commitment to environmental issues and drive for innovation, marketing their gourmet coffee varieties to hotels, restaurants and supermarkets in France and offering them directly to customers through the "Les Malongo Cafés" chain.
They also export their roasts to European neighbors and are known for being the first coffee roasters to sell their product in vacuum-sealed metal containers; which preserves the freshness and distinctive flavour of their sophisticated coffees from all around the world.
Within the framework of the UNODC's Global Program for Alternative Development, the French firm also offers a range of coffee beans produced in Burma, under the new Shan Mountain Coffee line. Through the new project with La Asunta in Bolivia, high-quality Bolivian coffee will soon join its ranks.