Coffee

Digital Solutions, Social Inclusion & Sector Collaboration

Digital tools offer enormous potential to enhance sustainability efforts. In 2017, Solidaridad commenced a digital journey with coffee farmers in both Peru and Colombia to focus on improving agricultural practices. The use of digital tools and farming data compliments Solidaridad’s existing work in these countries. Building on this knowledge ensures that new interventions are tailored to the specific needs of producers, and in a more efficient, more affordable manner.

Number of farmers and workers supported

 

Number of hectares under sustainable management

 

Achievements

In 2017, Solidaridad rolled out its digital strategy in Peru and Colombia to promote continuous improvement of sustainability practices at the farm level. A total of 100 lead farmers from San Martin in Peru and Risaralda in Colombia were able to do a self-evaluation of their production systems through these tools. This was followed up by tailored recommendations, production plans, and investments based on producers’ demonstrated needs and data.

In Kenya and Ethiopia, Solidaridad reached more than 80,000 coffee farmers through cooperatives and unions. The building blocks of Solidaridad’s programme in East Africa were developed and defined focussing on climate resilience, productivity and food security. This work has enabled Solidaridad to review its strategy in the region and design an innovative programme which will be launched in 2018.

In 2017, Solidaridad established and launched many sector transformation initiatives. Experts worked closely with the Global Coffee Platform and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge to move from agreements to action. At a national level, the Sustainable Trade Platform in Colombia established a new agenda with private sector buy-in. In addition, new platforms were launched in Honduras, Nicaragua and Kenya.

Solidaridad advanced its social inclusion agenda in coffee. It carried out in-depth gender research which portrayed the contribution of women across five coffee producing regions in Colombia. This research was shared with the coffee industry in November 2017.

In the European consumer market, Solidaridad launched the campaign A World Without Coffee to raise awareness among consumers and the private sector about the impact of climate change in coffee. This campaign reached more than three million citizens and provided a call to action to make 100% of coffee consumed in the Netherlands sustainable.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Central America

    True Price helps organizations improve their social and environmental impacts and has validated Solidaridad’s climate-smart coffee renovation model developed in Chiapas, Mexico. It reported significant environmental, economic and social gains. A financial model to support the implementation of climate-smart practices is under development, attracting necessary investment to scale and accelerate adoption in Chiapas. Solidaridad is also active in national coffee platforms in Honduras and Nicaragua, with the aim to address critical issues affecting the performance of coffee including the impacts of climate change in coffee.

  • East & Central Africa

    Solidaridad implemented the coffee programme in Kenya and Ethiopia, cumulatively reaching 831 trainers of trainers, 3,709 lead farmers and 80,136 farmers. In Ethiopia, farmers supply their coffee beans to coffee unions which carry out processing and marketing, but in Kenya, the farmers’ coffee beans are processed and marketed through cooperative societies. Solidaridad implements this coffee programme through three unions in Ethiopia, Sidama, Oromia and Yircachaffee, and more than 15 cooperative societies in Kenya.

  • South America

    Solidaridad has demonstrated a proven concept for its climate-smart coffee model. It is now disseminating this and developing scalable models for traders and investors. This is to support access to credit for producers. Solidaridad is known for its platform model for coffee in the region, and, as a result, the organization is often invited to advise on the establishment of the Peruvian and Honduras platforms. Solidaridad manages the local implementation of the Global Coffee Platform in Colombia.

Developments

Coffee continues to be an iconic product in which many innovations in sustainability are introduced, proved and scaled. Although production is at a record high, global consumption is growing at a faster rate than ever before. While traditional importing markets, such as Japan, the European Union and the United States of America, have historically accounted for the majority of global demand, emerging markets have expanded significantly. This has pushed consumption volumes even higher.

At present, supply stocks accumulated over the past few decades are supporting the increase in global consumption. This results in lower prices and has continued over the past seven years, including in 2017. Low prices promote uncertainty across the value chain, especially at a producer level. This was confirmed during the World Coffee Producers Forum held in Colombia in July 2017. During this event, coffee producers from around the world signed a joint declaration calling for a fairer distribution of coffee proceeds throughout the value chain.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration continues to be a trend across the sector. Through these platforms, private sector players, coffee producers, public institutions and civil society organizations aim to align on sustainability issues. Today, although more than 40% of coffee volumes are certified or verified, certification is no longer the most important sustainability strategy. Players across the sector are aware that collaboration is essential to address systemic issues and secure the future supply of coffee. Solidaridad has been at the heart of this work since 2012 and throughout 2017.

Partnerships

Solidaridad values collaboration with diverse partners. Within its coffee programme, this includes key companies such as Nestlé, Starbucks, Farmer Brothers, RGC Coffee, Volcafé, ECOM and Olam, donors such as NORAD, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Comic Relief, and producer organizations such as FNC, JNC, IHCAFE and the Ethiopian Coffee Unions. This collaboration enables Solidaridad to work on specific issues such as the economic viability of farm units, climate-smart agriculture, social inclusion, and improved technical assistance to producers through digital solutions.

Solidaridad continues to have a strong partnership with the facilitator of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, Conservation International, and the Global Coffee Platform. These international platforms aim to make coffee the first sustainable agricultural product by promoting sector transformation. Solidaridad is a founding member of both initiatives and has a direct influence on their governance and implementation. UTZ Certified has also been an important partner in Solidaridad’s campaign to transform the coffee sector, specifically in the establishment of national platforms in Central America.

Challenges

Many challenges affecting coffee production are systemic and cannot be solved by one link in the value chain alone. Despite many actions towards this goal and over 350 million USD invested annually, the coffee sector is not yet close to achieving its aim. Solidaridad is working on new approaches to tackle the ambitious sustainability goals.

The business case that proves that sustainable coffee is economically viable for smallholder producers needs to be proven at scale. The contribution of women in coffee needs to be identified and recognized to ensure equal access to coffee proceeds. As a career, coffee needs to become an economically attractive activity for youth in order to continue generational handover.

Another key challenge Solidaridad faces is achieving coordination from all value chain players. This coordination needs to be reached at a sector level, both nationally and internationally, to reduce fragmentation, avoid duplication of efforts, and drive stakeholders to raise the bar while focusing on impact, rather than on volumes. In 2017, Solidaridad continued to address the systemic issues facing the sector and to provide practical responses in the field.

Andrea Olivar

International Programme Coordinator, Coffee