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In focus: 'Coffee blends nature with people'

Global Farmers interviewed Brazilian coffee farmer Isabela Pascoal Becker. As it turns out, she has a bit of an unusual background...

By Global Farmers 2 0
Foto credit: Fernando Martinho – first published on GloboRural

What is your farming or food & agri background?
“I don’t come from any of these fields, unfortunately. My background is in Communication and Business studies. However I have always been a nature enthusiast and used to go very often to rural areas.”

“I joined Daterra in 2003 when we were starting to export and it was from this point that I formally began to learn and love about agribusiness.”

Tell us about your farm… Where is it, what do you grow, how many people work there?
“Daterra has 2 farms, the first one in in Franca – Mogiana region in the estafe of Sao Paulo. This farm has 560hec, but only 250 for coffee production. The second farm is in Patrocinio, Cerrado Mineiro in the estate of Minas Gerais. It has 6400 hectares, 2400 of coffee production.”

“The rest of the areas are dedicated to preservation, experimental farm, and palm garden. We produce around 90.000 bags per year and there are around 400 people working at Daterra. Our marketing and commercial office is in Campinas.”

"Agriculture should be one of the positive drives to improve social and economic conditions around the world"

What do you love best about being a grower?
“Coffee is definitely one of my passions because it blends nature with people. It blends a coffee farm from a very distant area with the different countries and culture and it is one of the most tasteful and social beverage. But most of all I believe that agriculture should be one of the positive drives to improve social and economic conditions around the world.”

Tell us about your experience with the Agrolíderes program…
“It has been very interesting as most of people I met are not coffee growers but Soya, Corn, Sugar Cane and come from a different region, so it gave me the opportunity to better learn about agribusiness in Brazil, its impact its complexity.”

“It also proved the incredible opportunity and responsibility Brazil has in terms of volume, quality and sustainability.”

What is your favourite innovative farming idea of the past 5 years?
“I can’t choose one as one innovation is linked to others. At Daterra the water treatment, our machines developed within our farm to better harvest residual coffee and the sorting process that allowed us to make exclusive and unique coffee blends.”

What concerns you most about food security as we progress towards 2050?
“Definitely the perception and the real concern of sustainability, that is food security is still an issue but cannot be seen separate from food safety and sustainability. The exaggeration of usage of agrochemicals to justify the need for food.”

"If we want to leave a legacy as a business, we must conserve and improve our soil condition."
How are you addressing sustainability goals in your farm business?
“Daterra was born sustainable. Our best practices were written in 1994 and it included most important criteria that later became certifications. We were the first Rainforest Alliance coffee farm in Brazil, first to have ISO14001. Last year we receive the prize as the most sustainable farm in Brazil and we just became a B Corp.”

What roles can farmers and businesses play in developing long-term agricultural sustainability?
“We are responsible not only to conserve the environment but to improve practices to break a paradigm from the concept that agriculture destroys nature to the one that promotes nature. If we want to leave a legacy as a business, we must conserve and improve our soil condition.”

If it was 2050 right now, what 3 pieces of advice would you give the generation of 2016?
“1. Read more, but deep dive into relevant subjects, not only facebook headlines.”
“2. Find the best partners, universities, researchers.”
“3. Be a volunteer at a social program, not give money but act.”

What is your new year’s resolution for 2017?
“Be more disciplined and more focused to read more.”

Who is your farming hero?
“I don’t have a farm hero. I can only think about some people and institutions that are relevant. In Brazil IAC – Institute of Agronomics of Campinas, ESALQ – University of Agronomy, Ana Maria Primavesi, Coracy de Moraes, Alcides Carvalho.”

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Global Farmers

Editorial Team at Rabobank

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