”I come from a coffee farming family with four siblings. My mother became a coffee trader by chance. When I was a child, I never thought that I would work in the coffee field as a farmer. In my mind, being a coffee farmer was an extremely difficult and stressful work. The farmers must not only work hard to face unpredictable weather and various threats posed by climate change but also battle against the constant price fluctuation. However, I must say that I am grateful for coffee and Fairtrade. When peace was restored in the region, my parents had to leave their hometown in the North and end up in the Central Highlands of Vietnam to make a living. Though they were poor, they worked hard to raise us, provide us a good education and support other farmers at the cooperative. Thanks to all their hard work and Fairtrade. Today I am the chairwoman of a coffee cooperative named Pô Kô Farms because of Fairtrade and I appreciate all the good things that I have learned from it. We have made the structure of Pô Kô Farms much stronger to improve the income of our coffee farmers, to allow women farmers to develop and shape a future for themselves, their families and their community, to provide educational support to our kids in the region.”
Po Ko Fair Agricultural Cooperative ( Pô Kô Farms), formerly known as To Hop Tac San Xuat Ca Phe Sach Vi Suc Khoe Cong Dong (CSCC), was established and officially started operating on January 28, 2009, in Dak Ha Town of Kon Tum Province, in the Central Highlands, Vietnam. The predecessor of Pô Kô Farms was a non-profit farmers group, specializing in producing coffee under Fairtrade standards and distributing Fairtrade coffee. Pô Kô Farms is located in one of the most favorable natural areas for coffee growing in Vietnam.
Members of Pô Kô Farms are more than 90% small producers, with a challenging economic situation. Their main income is from growing coffee but unstable coffee prices, dependence on natural conditions has made their lives difficult. It was a good fortune when they heard about Fairtrade and were supported by the Flo-eV representative in Vietnam and Nguyen Huy Hung Coffee Co., Ltd. In 2009, 43 farmers (37 males and 6 females) formed a farmers group to acquire knowledge on cultivation and overcome economic, social and environmental challenges.
Pô Kô Farms (FLO ID 21473) is one of the first two Vietnamese coffee small producer organizations to be certified as Fairtrade. In 2017 the SPO had 118 members (58 women and 60 men) with 10% as ethnic minorities. More than 800 tons of coffee beans were being produced at the farm with an area of 200 hectares. At the same time, Pô Kô Farms decided to bring about a change in its governance structure as well, by encouraging the younger generation and women to be a part of their board. It is one of the few Cooperatives in Vietnam that has female board members and chairwoman.
” Thanks to the Fairtrade Premium and learnings received from the standards, policies, and programs of Fairtrade on ethical trade. It has brought about amazing changes in the way we run and conduct our business in our day to day life. Through, various coffee projects of Fairtrade and its market demand, we have learned to focus on improving product quality. Today Pô Kô Farms is recognized as one of the renowned Fairtrade coffee cooperatives in Vietnam that provides high-quality robusta coffee. It has enabled us to not only maintain a good relationship with perennial customers but also extend businesses with new prospects. Moreover, our farmer members have received an opportunity to become a cupper and roaster. From what started as a group of farmers who only knew how to grow and collect cherries, today we stand confident enough to process, control, inspect and evaluate our coffee quality carefully in the door before shipping it to clients.
We also make important contributions to preserve the environment and biodiversity. Our members have been provided a thousand trees to grow in their coffee farms, they are encouraged to use more organic fertilizer and stop using chemical herbicide, etc.
We support the stability and economic development of the members as well as the surrounding community. We have provided fertilizers, agricultural equipment, etc to members, increased members’ income through better prices. The members also need to improve their farming skills via training courses, practice good harvesting and comply with Fairtrade standards.
We have built 2 community houses, 7 houses for underprivileged families in the region, 1 rural road, reconstructed 1 bridge, 1 kindergarten school, provided scholarships for children, supported activities for kids and women and created jobs for women.
Happy faces at the Kindergarten school reconstructed by Po Ko farms
Most of our staff are daughters of coffee farmers. In the picture below the woman dressed in a red shirt is Ms. Blui, an ethnic minority. She is married with 4 sons and 1 daughter. Their family is really poor and depends totally on the income generated by her husband through his part-time job and 0.5 ha of the coffee farm. He earns an average of 30 USD/month. Ms. Blui was extremely happy when we created a part-time job for her to improve her income and included her in our community.”
“Fairtrade has changed our way of thinking not only by focussing on providing good quality coffee but also supporting each other and strengthening our community to shape a better life for all our coffee farmers and their families”.
Pham thi Huyen Anh is also one of the elected Board members of Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP). She represents the voice of younger generation of coffee farmers in the Board and has supported and worked for Po Ko Fair Agricultural Cooperative for approximately 10 years in multiple roles.