Joining forces: Helping coffee farmers with the transition
Our Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme pools forces where they are most needed: among the smallholders on the ground. Their resources are frequently limited and they lack the necessary know-how for profitable and sustainable coffee farming. With the support of competent partner organisations Tchibo Joint Forces!® helps coffee farmers increase their productivity and income in an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable way. The programme’s flexible modules specifically focus on the individual needs of coffee farmers, their families and local communities.
Smallholders need customised, pragmatic solutions that will quickly help them operate more successfully in their particular situation. That is why in 2012 we launched our Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme. It picks up exactly where the smallholders are starting out and is now established in several countries from where we source our raw coffee. Tchibo Joint Forces!® uses tailored training courses to help farmers and cooperatives on the ground be more enterprising, improve the profitability of their businesses and increase their sales opportunities. At the same time they convey the necessary know-how to address environmental and social challenges. As a result our programme usefully supplements certification or validation according to recognised standards.
Tchibo Joint Forces!® involves many partners in its work. These include agricultural scientists, coaches, exporters, traders, internationally recognised standards organisations and, if necessary, governmental and nongovernmental organisations. Our Tchibo coffee experts support the work of the projects and monitor the implementation of the measures locally.
Tailor-made, practical solutions for smallholders
Thanks to its modular design, the Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme can cater precisely for the needs of farmers. The first three modules communicate knowledge and methods of good agricultural practices (GAP), which smallholders can use to increase the yields and quality of their green coffee and to do business more successfully. The farmers are usually supported over several years in this process. The subsequent fourth module helps them individually to meet the standard organisations’ minimum requirements.
In 2014, we extended the Tchibo Joint Forces!® offer to include a fifth module called ‘Local community involvement.’ It builds on the educational projects we have been running since 2009 to strengthen social communities in the growing regions. The aim is to develop the social structures in the environment of the coffee farms and improve the living conditions of the families.
Module 1 “Sustainable Yield Increase”
Module 1 gives coffee farmers extensive training in good agricultural practices, in hopes of putting them in a position to sustainably increase their productivity and yields. In addition to the training, soil and coffee plants can be analysed as needed and seedlings planted that are more resistant to diseases and pests, e.g..
Module 2 “Cost Control”
Module 2 teaches the basics of doing business. The idea is to familiarise farmers with the key elements of entrepreneurship, as smallholders are also entrepreneurs. Lessons include accounting for income and expenditure and elemental business know-how.
Module 3 “Product Quality Consistency”
Module 3 teaches techniques for processing harvested coffee cherries that ensure consistently high product quality. Among other things, participants learn how to use simple devices to process raw beans, e.g. to remove the beans from the coffee cherries.
Module 4 “Certification/Verification”
Module 4 serves to build awareness and understanding of the environmental and social requirements promoted by the standards organisations and therefore plays a central role: coffee farmers who successfully complete it receive certification according to the requirements of the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade or UTZ Certified or 4C validation. This results in better marketing opportunities for the coffee farmers because they can fetch higher prices for green coffee that is proven to have been responsibly produced. Tchibo then offers them a long-term collaboration that includes purchasing sustainable green coffee.
Module 5 “Local Community Engagement”
Module 5 is aimed at the coffee farmers’ communities and families. Depending on local needs youth training & education or childcare centres are provided. The “Coffee Farming as a Family Business” component is designed to encourage families to view their farm as a shared economic unit. The coffee farmers and their wives are equally involved and young people are interested in coffee growing at an early age to prevent the disproportionate ratio of older people in coffee cultivation. Another optional module imparts knowledge on adapting to climate change.
Tchibo Joint Forces!® programme continues to grow
Between early 2012 and the end of 2014 we launched Tchibo Joint Forces!® projects in Honduras, Kenya, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Vietnam. Around 30,000 coffee farmers have completed the programme to date and obtained certification according to the requirements of the internationally recognised standard organisations – Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, UTZ Certified – or validation according to the 4C baseline standards. We will continue the Tchibo Joint Forces!® projects in the years ahead, involving more and more farmers in the training. We are currently reviewing the feasibility of two other projects in Brazil and Guatemala.