Colombia’s coffee farmers will receive a Coffee Income Protection (CIP) stipend owed to them since 2013, local media reported Wednesday.
The decision was announced by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, following a meeting with coffee farmers in the northwestern state of Antioquia.
According to the radio network Radio W, Santos stated that he had authorized the Colombian Coffee Federation to pay the CIP, which the country’s farmers had been entitled to since 2013. Fedecafe will reportedly pay the remaining 74,000 coffee farmers who were found to be eligible for government assistance after applying for the stipends during the month of December last year.
“The Coffee Federation has been allocated $103.5 million to pay the PIC,” announced Santos.
Of the decision, Santos said, “Coffee growers in Colombia should be very satisfied, because Colombian production in the world market looks very promising.”
Santos’ announcement comes less than a week before planned coffee farmer strikes.
Agrarian discontent in August last year led to major national strikes last year that resulted in violence and disruption across Colombia. Five people were killed in clashes with the police, 458 people were injured and highways and roads were closed down around the country.
As part of the deal to end the strikes, the Colombian government created a Coffee Income Protection (PIC) plan that agreed to pay stipends to coffee farmers if internal coffee prices fell below about $350 for a 275 pound bag of coffee. Coffee Grower’s Dignity spokesman Victor Correa told Colombia Reports this is roughly the point where coffee price meets the production costs for coffee growers.
Since then, according to Caracol Radio, the Colombian government has reportedly already paid $500 million to Colombia’s coffee farmers in accordance with the PIC.
Coffee growers announced earlier this year an intent to strike once again on April 28 because they say the government has failed to carry out six of the even terms agreed upon following the strikes last year.
One of the major complaints coffee farmers had, according to a spokesman for the Coffee Grower’s Dignity (Dignidad Cafetera), was that only 80% of coffee farmers received the PIC assistance they had been promised. Wednesday’s announcement by President Santos could be an attempt to show good will towards the coffee growers.
The planned strikes planned for April 28 will start less than a month before presidential elections and may force incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos to make concessions to coffee growers in order to avoid major strikes.