After five years as the lead official for the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Luis G. Muñoz yesterday announced his immediate resignation.
The announcement came during the group’s regular board meeting, and the FNC initiated the election process for Muñoz’s replacement. As designated alternate CEO, Luis F. Acero will handle duties until the election is complete.
The organization credits Muñoz with helping increase Colombia’s total production, despite losses from leaf rust, and helping renovate more than 3.3 billion coffee plants; with helping some 200,000 farms meet third-party verification or certification protocols for an estimated $60 million in premiums directly to growers; with helping build the Juan Valdez coffee shop brand to 314 units in 15 countries; and with helping develop a producer-focused national sustainability strategy, approved last year, among other accomplishments.
The resignation comes as the Colombian coffee industry is somewhat at a crossroads. The FNC is naturally a major player in the industry, recognized as one of the most well-organized and most influential agricultural agencies in the world, representing more than 500,000 coffee farming families, according to its own estimates. But a report earlier this year by the Colombian Coffee Commission (Misión Cafetera), commissioned by the President’s office, was largely critical of the country’s existing coffee industry institutions, mentioning the FNC no fewer than 89 times.
While Muñoz had outspoken support from leaders in many of the nation’s 15 coffee-growing departments, officials in departments including Caldas, Antioquia and Huila have recently been critical of the FNC and its leadership, citing diminished opportunities for premiums in international markets and the high cost of fertilizers, among other things.
Muñoz was elected CEO following the retirement of Gabriel Silva. The election process will involve three elected candidates who will be agreed upon by the 15 delegates from all the FNC’s departmental coffee-grower communities and a federal delegation composed of the ministers of finance, agriculture and foreign trade, and the head of the National Planning Department.