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New study finds ways to improve livelihoods of coffee farmers

From the September 2017 issue.

Beans in handA new study of coffee farmer economics by the Global Coffee Platform and TechnoServe reveals significant opportunities to increase farmer income around the world.

The report’s authors say the potential for improvement is an important catalyst for the sector to take on and further explore these findings.

The quick scan of the coffee sector in 11 countries around the world benchmarked and identified opportunities for potential benefits to coffee farmers from improved farm profitability and increased supply chain efficiency.

Key findings

  • Yields could be increased by 10 per cent (in Vietnam) to 100 per cent (in Peru) over the next five years by improving agronomy practices, farm rehabilitation and input optimisation
  • Achieving these yield increases across the 11 countries would add 2.5 million metric tonnes to annual production by 2027 and generate $2 billion additional farmer income annually at current price levels
  • Yield improvements are the most significant way to improve farmer incomes
  • Opportunities for yield improvements are higher in countries with relatively larger farms (e.g. Ethiopia, Indonesia and Vietnam) than in countries with relatively smaller farms (e.g. Kenya and Uganda)
  • Arabica farmers at higher altitudes could increase incomes through quality improvement, with opportunities for the greatest number of farmers in Ethiopia and Indonesia
  • Achieving quality improvements across six countries in the study would generate US$200 million of additional farmer income annually
  • Changes to trading systems are required to incentivise quality improvements in some origins (e.g. Indonesia, Honduras, Peru) and some farmers require access to central wet mills to improve quality (e.g. Ethiopia, Tanzania)
  • Even though women perform a significant amount of the labour in coffee farming, women currently receive only 5 per cent of agronomy extension services.
  • When women have increased control over income, it is more likely to be spent on children’s health, nutrition and education.
  • Therefore, to increase the likelihood that coffee income will benefit the whole family, we need to increase women’s influence over coffee expenditure decisions through training of both women and men on coffee marketing and financial literacy.

This scan forms a part of the Global Coffee Platform’s Economic Viability of Farming Collective Action Network, which enables the sector to collaborate and prioritise actions with the potential to have an impact on increasing farm profitability.

Possible next actions for the Collective Action Network include:

  • Support developing a tool to determine costs of production
  • Support National Platforms to develop National Sustainability Curricula in Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua and Peru
  • Support development of tools and mechanisms to monitor implementation of good practices and participate in measuring the impact of National Sustainability Curricula in Brazil, Indonesia, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam

You can read the Executive Summary of the report here.

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