Brazil – Jatoba Organic
Fazenda Jatoba is one of five farms which belong to members of the Dutra family. Together they are known as Fazendas Dutra and the farms occupy 764 hectares of prime coffee growing land nestled in the green hills of the Sao Joao do Manhuaçu district in the spectacular coffee-producing state of Minas Gerais. This particular lot hails from the farm ‘Jatobá’, 51 hectares of which are composed of prime coffee growing land.
Like all the Fazendas Dutra farms, Fazenda Jatobá has been meticulously cultivated in perfect harmony with nature for more than 50 years. The climate, the soil and the altitude convey distinctive aromas, flavours and a balanced body that have been recognized by multiple coffee quality competitions, national and international.
Recently, Fazenda Jatobá, named after the dominant tree species located thought the farm’s forests, has taken steps to become certified Organic, a rarity for much of Brazil’s specialty coffee sector. This means that Fazenda Jatobá crop is produced using only organic inputs, such as upcycled coffee pulp for fertiliser. This has led to Fazendas Dutra’s efforts being recognised, as they were awarded the Sustainable Farm Award by Globo Rural Magazine; one of Brazil’s leading agribusiness publications.
Fazendas Dutra originated from a small farm inherited by José Dutra Sobrinho at the beginning of the 1950s. ‘Zeca’ Dutra saw the potential in the land despite the farm’s small size and applied his passion for coffee farming to expand and improve the farm. He worked hard over the years to expand the Fazenda’s size, persevering even as the coffee crises of the mid-1980s presented major difficulties to small farmers across Brazil. During these tough times, the family’s course of action was to continue believing and investing in their production, intensifying their dedication to producing high-quality coffee and expanding the area under production.
Zeca Dutra passed away in September of 1999, leaving over 300 hectares of coffee to his sons, Walter and Ednilson. Walter and Ednilson decided that to make the most of their father’s legacy, they needed to invest heavily in their education as a means of moving the farms forward into the new century. They’ve worked tirelessly not only on the farms themselves but also to expand their knowledge so that they can apply the best possible practices to their farming.
As a result of the investment in knowledge, since 2000, Fazendas Dutra’s reputation has grown exponentially and the brothers have won multiple awards for their coffee quality. They have been included on lists as one of the top 50 best growers of Brazil and have achieved quality certifications from the BSCA (Brazil Specialty Coffee Association).
Today, the brother’s farm over 500 acres of level-curve-planted coffee and are planning on expanding cultivation even more. They produce 16 thousand bags/year (approx. 40 bags/ hectare), of which 6 thousand are of specialty grade coffee. The farm employs 50 people year-round and provides an additional 250 jobs during the low season and 600 jobs in the period of the harvest. The secret of this success is passion, hard work and a continuous commitment to improving quality.
The Dutra Family manages their farms with a strong respect for nature. 35-40% of the farm remains under conservation, helping to preserve native flora and fauna. Brothers Walter and Ednilson have planted “green curtains” to protect against strong winds. These provide a natural, eco-friendly control against pests. And the brothers also focus on the preservation of local water supplies and carefully manage the water used in their Fully-Washed and Semi-Washed processing.
This effort to cultivate coffee amongst nature can however produce its challenges. The landscape is mountainous and retains it’s natural rocks, woods and waterfalls so all of the coffee is harvested by hand. This means that labour is difficult and expensive to retain, but it is this effort which in turn produces such a differentiated product, with Fazenda Jatobá’s coffees often classified among the best coffees in Brazil for both quality and sustainability.
Social commitment and community are also central to the values of the Dutra Family. Employees at the farms receive regular training and education – from health and safety to new agronomic techniques – and families are encouraged to establish gardens in their homes. Fazendas Dutra also supports the “Family Health Program” (Programa de Saúde da Família) – where continued health care is provided to employees’ families – and provides support to the local school.