Pronatur, Promoter of Natural Agriculture
We've mentioned before that Jan Bernhard Riggs is the General Manager of Pronatur E.I.R.L., but what does that company do?
Pronatur describes itself as a promoter of natural agriculture. In practice, that means they promote the products of several farmer cooperatives, agglomerating about 1,260 farmers according to their website. In itself, this is laudable, because by bargaining collectively, the farmers can get a better price for their products, and Pronatur justifiably earns a margin for that service.
Part of this margin also pays for extension services. This means that Pronatur staff or paid consultants train farmers who are members of the cooperative to achieve certifications like JAS, Rainforest Alliance, C.A.F.E. Practices, Bio Suisse Organic, and others, which helps farmers market their coffee.
Another thing mentioned on the website is their code of conduct, which does a good job of addressing issues that might affect producers like forced labor or child labor, but doesn't go into the due diligence of Pronatur's staff itself. Why does Pronatur trust a convicted criminal to manage their operations? Do they believe his debt is paid, is it because Maria de Lourdes, the administrator of Pronatur, was also the adminstrator of the company that Jan Bernhard Riggs swindled? We don't know, but we're curious.