The Pickers Project

In Colombia, 900,000 people engage in labor-intensive coffee picking by hand, and only 3% are formally employed.* This gives rise to myriad challenges—ranging from poor quality and inadequate pay to strained relationships between pickers and producers. Additionally, the informal nature of typical coffee picking work, in defiance of national and international labor laws, leaves pickers without access to benefits and social security.

Beyond these human-centric concerns, systemic challenges such as consistently low coffee prices and reducing production capacity on small farms worsen the situation. This leaves farmers grappling with issues of familial support and severe cash flow problems borne of the need to pay pickers upfront before revenues from the coffee they will sell.

At Azahar, we acknowledge the urgent need for change and are committed to transforming industry inequities, by establishing fair and sustainable practices, addressing immediate concerns paving the way for lasting transformations.

The Pickers Project is a human-focused program dedicated to recognizing and elevating the crucial work of coffee pickers around the world. We’ve been working on the idea since 2017, when we kicked off the Project pilot in Nariño. In 2021 Azahar established Manos al Grano, a non-profit organization, that provides coffee pickers full-time employment with benefits, healthcare, legal payments, and ongoing training.

For this to work, we need to know in advance when you want to support the Project. Because when you source your coffees through the Project, Manos al Grano need to mobilize a group of skilled and trained pickers to meticulously harvest the beans aligning every step with your specifications.

Pickers will be compensated legally through the organization with ongoing and regular payments, including a bonus for completing contracts at the end of the harvest. Ensuring fair wages for their work, and guaranteeing that producers receive a premium price for their coffees without deductions for coffee picking labor, because Manos al Grano covers this directly, supports an equitable process for everyone involved.

Want to learn more about the Project and legal labor in coffee?

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