The work the Colombian Coffee Grower’s Federation (FNC) plays in promoting the country’s most important agricultural export was highlighted at ExpoEspeciales in Bogota this month. For the eighth year running the FNC brought together producers, buyers, equipment suppliers and members representing each aspect of the industry for the specialty coffee fair in Colombia’s capital. Throughout the event, which ran in conjunction with the International Women Coffee Alliance’s (IWCA) fourth annual convention, a number of speakers used the FNC as a model for producing nations to use to represent their coffee growers. Aïcha Pouye, Director of the Division of Business and Institutional Support of the International Trade Centre (ITC), acknowledged the work of the FNC in progressing Colombia’s coffee export industry. “As part of the UN, the ITC seeks to encourage exports from developing countries,” said Pouye. “In this sense, the alliance with the IWCA and the FNC has been remarkable. We’re proud of this coffee business model and are looking forward to replicating it in other continents and countries.” FNC representatives were out in force at the trade fair, which saw more than 13,000 visitors through the gates over its four days. Researchers from FNC’s Cenicafe were on hand to walk producers and industry enthusiasts through the latest work being done at its facility in Caldas. The FNC’s education vehicle, which usually tours the country teaching about Colombia’s coffee heritage, parked up at ExpoEspeciales for the duration of the show. Colombian coffee celebrity Juan Valdez, the smiling face of the FNC’s coffee company, Juan Valdez, proved popular with snap-happy visitors as he wondered the Corferias location posing for pictures. A Juan Valdez pop-up café was among the 120 exhibitors, which filled the 3000 square metres of stand space. Speaking to GCR Magazine, Robério Oliveira Silva, Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) said that Colombia was a perfect example of how, with the help of organisations like the FNC, the coffee industry has the potential to contribute to peace and prosperity around the world. “Colombia had a big problem with conflict in the past and coffee crops provided a solution,” said Silva. “Coffee farms have been there to provide benefits to coffee farmers all over the country.” Silva also acknowledged the work of the FNC in terms of promoting women’s involvement in the coffee sector. “Colombia is doing an exceptional job for women in coffee,” said Silva. “The task is to now create more roles for women in coffee everywhere.” In addition to hosting the IWCA convention, ExpoEspeciales provided the backdrop for the first-ever female All-Stars competition, with IWCA Chapter representatives paired with French Barista Champion Charlotte Malaval and Italian Latte Art Champion Chiara Bergonzi in a series of on-stage demonstrations. More than 60 baristas also took part in Colombia’s national barista competition. FNC CEO Roberto Vélez said that the FNC has come along way since 1996 when it committed to being a player in the specialty coffee market. “As a country I believe we should feel proud,” said Vélez. “We have earned our position as a specialty coffee producer in the international sphere.” Vélez said that in 2016 he would like to see ExpoEspeciales open up to markets beyond Colombia, in order to showcase other producing nations around the world.