Photo by UNODC:

by Francesca Mollica

It was 2018 when the Green Gold Cooperative managed to reach a great goal: exporting its first coffee crop.

This story begins in 2015 thanks to the collaboration with UNODC (United Nations agency for drug control and crime prevention). Political instability and lack of opportunities to lead a life within the limits of the law, made Myanmar the second largest producer of opium in the world. In addition to the use of this substance in traditional medicine and celebration of rites, consumption as a drug has had consequences also on public health.

The creation of alternative development programs therefore aims the eradication of these crops which are often the only source of livelihood for farmers and their families. The cooperative’s work is also supported by the SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and with training by DGRV (German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation). Thanks to these projects, the farming communities of South Shan state have succeeded in converting opium poppy crops into coffee crops.

The project, which brought together the two ethnic groups Shan and Pao, historically in conflict with each other, managed to reconcile the two communities for a common purpose. The result was so good that the beans were sold at a price more than double the Myanmar average, and an agreement was signed for the marketing, on fair trade terms, with a French company.

The project, which includes around 1000 farmers, has also succeeded in obtaining land ownership certificates for women and in providing forestry education for sustainable development. The work carried out is therefore also helping to create awareness in the populations concerned for the removal of the causes of deforestation in the area. The purpose of UNODC is part of the broader project for achieving the objectives set in the 2030 AGENDA which includes the 17 goals for Sustainable Development so-called SDGs including poverty reduction, sustainable growth, gender equality and promotion of peace and justice.