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¡Tierra! is a social responsibility project launched by Lavazza in 2002 to improve social and environmental conditions, as well as production techniques in small coffee-growing communities. The project is implemented by the Giuseppe & Pericle Lavazza Foundation, a non-profit organisation that has launched and supported 35 projects since its formation.
The ¡Tierra! economic, social and environmental initiatives have steadily improved the living conditions for the communities involved in the project, supporting economic growth and introducing new, more eco-friendly, and more profitable agricultural techniques.
The first phase of ¡Tierra! involved three communities in Peru, Honduras and Colombia and ended successfully in 2009.
The communities involved have attained full autonomy: today the caficultores are able to sell their product directly, without passing through intermediaries, and all their cultivations have received Rainforest Alliance certification.
The second phase of ¡Tierra!, launched in 2010, involves communities of small local coffee-growers in Brazil, India and Tanzania.
The projects also involve environmental, social and economic initiatives aimed at improving farming practices to support sustainability for the growers and the environment they live in.
The ¡Tierra! project has now also been launched in Vietnam and Ethiopia.
The Lavazza Foundation, in collaboration with the Löfbergs Foundation of Karlstad and the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung of Hamburg, has launched a five-year plan targeting the Amaro region, in southern Ethiopia.
The plan primarily aims at providing 2,500 small-scale growers with all they need to sustainably improve their coffee production and enhance the value of their product on the market.
In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to update their business practices, teaching them how to think and act in an entrepreneurial way and become competitive within the industry.
The Lavazza ¡Tierra! project in Vietnam is training 200 families of smallholder farmers to grow coffee both sustainably from an environmental, economic and social standpoint, and flexibly with respect to the current climate changes.
The project was launched in September 2013 and since then it has focused on improving farmers’ expertise and skills through numerous meetings and training sessions, in addition to establishing farming cooperatives — provided with plant nurseries and training centres — which are entirely managed and owned by the families of the Dak Lak province.
The work of the ¡Tierra! project in Tanzania is leading the communities to improve the quality of the coffee they grow. The usual attention is being paid to providing ongoing training to the caficultores, through pilot schemes and courses on production management and sustainable farming techniques.
In this region, the ¡Tierra! project has involved more than 750 local producers and their families. The first milestone on this journey was the building and inauguration of the MaseRing Nursery School in the village of Maande in the Kirua region, at an altitude of 1,200m on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. The project was made possible by the collaboration between the Kirua Children Association and the Lavazza Foundation.
The school was inaugurated in July 2012 in the presence of the project managers including Cristina Barettini, representative of the Kirua Children Association, Father Peter Kilasara of CSSp and MaseRing School Director, Francesca Lavazza, children from the local villages and their parents. It has been enthusiastically received by the whole community.
The project involves coffee growers from the municipality of Lambari, in southern Minas Gerais, with the participation of various partners — Hans R. Neumann Stiftung, Emater, the Fundação do Banco do Brasil and the Cooperativa Agropecuária de Lambari — and the support of the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation.
The heart of this initiative is the creation of a setting which can promote family-based coffee production in order to make it more efficient and environmentally friendly, while also improving the quality and quantity of the coffee that is grown.
The Lavazza Foundation has planned for the sustainable development of the municipality and region. Thanks to its project partners, it will guarantee the inclusion of various local coffees (certified by the Rainforest Alliance) in sustainable coffee.
In India the project aims to support 400 producers of Robusta coffee in the state of Karnataka. Launched in 2011, it envisages the collaboration of DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft), a German organisation active in international cooperation. The aim is to improve production standards and make them competitive based on sustainable agricultural practices.
The project involved two communities, Ñagazú and Alto Churumazú, in the Villa Rica area, where high-quality parchment coffee is grown. The main objective was to increase production to 1.4 million kg per year by building new plants to improve processing. Furthermore, the work also had more social and environmental aspects, such as a new school which made it possible to educate 370 people in six years.
In this small community Lavazza wanted to demonstrate how sustainable coffee cultivation is possible and beneficial for all.
Alongside operations to make processing more competitive and raise the quality, while minimising the environmental impact, Lavazza implemented social initiatives in the spirit of Tierra, such as a new school reforestation and micro-credit facilities.
The project involved a community in the Department of Huila, an area known for growing excellent product but currently in great difficulty due to widespread guerrilla warfare and the coffee crisis. The operations initially involved the most basic needs — the construction or renovation of homes, the installation of septic tanks and processing plants, first aid, food and education support — followed by work to make the plantations compliant with the Rainforest Alliance certification standards. Other initiatives:
The Rainforest Alliance is an international NGO which certifies the sustainability of companies and farming activities in the rainforest. Its viewpoint is that of preserving the natural environment while bearing agricultural needs in mind.
The NGO has a well-earned reputation for its rigorous checks and the strictness of the nine requirements that must be met in order to be certified. Moreover, these requirements must continue to be respected once certification has been issued.
Lavazza shares the Rainforest Alliance’s ambition to safeguard the environment to benefit local farmers, not only in terms of health and social welfare, but also on a financial level Which is whyit was invited to certify the Tierra project.
The communities in the first phase of the project took just three years to obtain certification, which in 2005 confirmed their environmental, social and work sustainability, as well as observance of the nine principles of Rainforest Alliance:
To learn more, visit the Rainforest Alliance website.
¡Tierra! also has a unique photo book documenting the project through its fascinating development. The photography recalls the faces, stories and atmosphere of Tierra with immense respect and empathy, conveying emotions and enthusiasm through the eyes of Steve McCurry.
McCurry is one of the most famous and authoritative reporters of National Geographic, a member of Magnum Photos, and the winner of numerous prestigious awards. He immediately embraced Lavazza’s idea and started to follow Tierra long before it was actually launched, travelling to the three communities before the preliminary work began, in order to document everything before, during and after the project. He took three young photographers with him: the Italian Guia Besana, the Colombian Carlos Zuluago Palacio and the Peruvian Eduardo Hirose. The result of their commitment has been turned into a book on the first phase of ¡Tierra!.
Steve has recorded the second phase of the ¡Tierra! project for Lavazza. Once again his goal is to offer us an inside look at the project. In 2010 he went to Lambari in Brazil, in 2011 to Karnataka in India and in 2012 to Kirua in Tanzania to document the story of the ¡Tierra! project; a unique cultural sustainability project.
“Whenever I leave, I think that it’s to discover something I’ve never seen before. I like the feeling of astonishment that has always accompanied me, because it allows me to talk to the people in front of my lens and discover not only my subjects’ faces, but also their stories. This happens every time with Lavazza and with ¡Tierra!. It happened in the past in Peru, Colombia and Honduras, and then again last year in Brazil. [...] And we had the chance to see people working, harvesting, sweating, and then relaxing and joking at the bar. We were invited into every house we passed and were guests in a world that is truly somewhere else. This is what is so great about a job like mine and a project like Tierra: you are never considered intruders by people who share a common plan. This is also why I have always believed in the Tierra project, which we would be wrong to define as merely a sustainable project, because it’s something more: it represents tangible, material, social and cultural support.” Steve McCurry