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IFC and ECOM to Establish First Training Center for Vietnamese Coffee Farmers

Lam Dong province, Vietnam,  March 16, 2010— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed a cooperation agreement with Atlantic Commodities Vietnam Ltd, a subsidiary of ECOM Agroindustrial Corporation, to establish the first training center for Vietnamese coffee farmers to help them meet international certification standards, improve the sustainability and productivity of crops, and increase their earnings.
The Vietnam training center is part of a larger plan for IFC to provide investment and advisory services to help ECOM Group, a global coffee trader, establish several farmer training centers.  The plan includes a $55 million, five-year corporate loan facility for use in six countries, including Vietnam, which was committed in June 2008.
“Adding value to our farmer suppliers through Farmer Training Centers makes good business sense for ECOM Group, which has been proven through similar projects in Mexico and Uganda,” said Alexander Gruber, General Director of Atlantic Commodities Vietnam Ltd.  “This agreement is an important example of ECOM’s long-term working relation with farmers, engaging in sustainability certifications and other programs to enhance farmers’ professionalism and profitability.”
The new training center, which will target 4,000 farmer households over three years, will help smallholder farmers qualify for sustainable coffee certifications like Utz, Rainforest, or 4C.  As ECOM and other buyers pay premium prices for certified coffee beans, farmers joining the training centers should see their incomes increase through certification.  ACOM and IFC expect about 50,000 non-ACOM farmers to benefit indirectly from exposure to best management practices, and information disseminated by the project.
“IFC’s ongoing cooperation with ECOM shows how we can maximize development impact by supporting large numbers of smallholders,” said Simon Andrews, IFC Regional Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand.  “By combining our advisory and investment services with ECOM’s market influence, we can demonstrate the business case for good social and environmental practices.”
IFC is the only international financial institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable development in emerging markets. Along with the IBRD , it is currently seeking a capital increase to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing countries—including by helping link small farmers to commercially attractive and sustainable supply chains.
In Vietnam, IFC’s advisory services are delivered in partnership with Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .
About ECOM Agroindustrial Corporation Ltd
ECOM Agroindustrial Corporation and its subsidiaries conduct commodities origination in Asia, the United States, Central and South America, Europe, and Africa.  Incorporated in Switzerland, ECOM ranks among the top five leading world traders in coffee, cotton, and cocoa. The company supplies key agricultural raw materials to major manufacturers such as Nestle, Hershey, Mars, and Starbucks. It operates as a fully integrated commodity originator, processor, and merchandiser, providing primary processing, logistics, and risk management services, and selling to branded product manufacturers. For more information, visit www.ecomtrading.com/website.nsf .