Promoting sustainable structures together
Many of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers could operate more productively and sustainably given a modern infrastructure or affordable loans. That is why we work with regional, national and international protagonists from the coffee industry in cross-sector initiatives such as the Sustainable Coffee Programme (SCP) for better conditions in the producing countries. In early 2015, the SCP and other alliances and programmes in the coffee sector strengthened their network through a joint declaration.
There are a variety of challenges to achieving sustainable development in the coffee industry in the producing countries, which cannot be solved by the coffee farmers and their local organisations alone. In particular, to improve market access for remote coffee farms, the infrastructure in the countries of origin must be upgraded. This goes not only for transport, but also for information and communication networks and the power supply. It is also important to offer farmers investment opportunities to facilitate their transition to new technologies. A political framework for environmentally and socially responsible farming is also needed. In many cases, there are still no clear regulations, e.g. for a reliable water supply or the protection of ecosystems. With the SCP and the International Coffee Partners (ICP) initiative, we are working at a higher level on improving such framework conditions.
Sustainable Coffee Programme: Business and politics pull together
In 2012 international coffee roasters joined forces in the SCP to jointly address structural challenges. The main objective is to increase yields and export volumes of sustainably produced coffees. Governmental organisations, NGOs and other national stakeholders collaborate on country-specific activities in the programme, which originated as a Dutch government initiative called “Initiatief Duurzame Handel” (Sustainable Trade Initiative - IDH). The IDH is committed to promoting responsible trade in raw materials and industrial products from developing countries and coordinates the international activities required for this. Its activities focus on goods such as cocoa, tea, soy, tropical woods, cotton, coffee and palm oil, as well as finished clothing and electronics products.
Tchibo is a founding member of the SCP and is represented on its Steering Committee with the other participating roasters, the European Coffee Federation (umbrella organisation) and the development aid organisation HIVOS. As an important syndicate of protagonists from industry and politics in the world coffee market – it includes the roasters with the world's largest market volume – the SCP has considerable reach.
Investment in national development projects
For Tchibo the structurally oriented SCP initiatives are a useful complement to its own Tchibo Joint Forces!® programme. They contribute to the fact that the coffee sector in general is becoming more sustainable. The programme phase running from 2010 to 2015 focused on six of the ten largest coffee-producing countries: Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda. For each country, the SCP identifies measures that contain great potential for a more sustainable green coffee cultivation. At the same time, it indicates ways of overcoming potential obstacles. The SCP’s activities include:
- Helping to establish an association under private law for the coffee industry;
- Promoting the official recognition of local standards, such as Certifica Minas Café from Brazil, within the framework of the 4C standards
Promoting programmes for better adapting coffee cultivation better to changing weather conditions
By the end of the programme phase that expires in 2015, the SCP hopes to have reached a total of 500,000 coffee farmers. From 2010 to 2015, 25 million US dollars will have been invested in more than 80 projects in the producing countries, and in the further development of coffee supply chains. In addition, international donors are involved in other programme activities. They often provide crucial seed money for local projects. The allocation of funds is reviewed by an independent committee, local experts and the coordinators of the national programmes.
Memorandum for intensified cooperation
One important milestone on the road to the sustainable transformation of the coffee sector was reached in early 2015. In March, the 4C Association as an organisation of the private sector and civil society, the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) as an intergovernmental organisation of production and consumption countries, and the IDH as a coordinator of donor agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding. It creates closer links between the various alliances and protagonists in the coffee sector, who also commit to promoting sustainable development in the coffee-producing countries. At the same time, by signing the memorandum, they have laid the foundations for involving more partners. They aim to support their members and partners with a joint secretariat, define a joint public-private agenda for a sustainable coffee sector, and coordinate the resulting activities at national and global level.
International Coffee Partners: Partnerships in key regions
The ICP initiative, in which the leading European roasters and green coffee traders joined forces in 2001, also relies on overarching cooperation. True to the principle of “helping people to help themselves” it wants to lastingly improve the living conditions of smallholders based on sustainable farming practices. As a founding member, Tchibo has supported the ICP from the beginning.
The ICP is active in twelve countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 2014 Vietnam was added. The projects are aimed directly at smallholders, their families and communities. Local and international development organisations, the public authorities, NGOs and producers’ representatives are involved. The ICP plans to build long-term partnerships with farmers in three key coffee-growing regions: Mbeya in Tanzania, Minas Gerais in Brazil and Trifinio, a border region between Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Six projects are currently underway; 14 have been completed since 2001. The ICP has reached more than 30,000 farmers and over 200,000 family members to date. On average, the project participants were able to double their revenues from the sale of coffee; some even tripled their income. 25 ICP projects with more than 60,000 farmers and 400,000 family members are to be realised by 2018.