Tchibo Joint Forces!®
In the supply chain: support for smallholders and their families
Our Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme starts with the coffee farmers in the supply chain of our premium assortment. We support them in the step-by-step shift from conventional to ecologically and socially acceptable and economically sustainable coffee farming: through measures that are tailored to their specific challenges. This includes training, educational offers for the whole family, access to infrastructure, and the establishment of long-term supplier relationships. In Tchibo Joint Forces!®, we cooperate with green coffee exporters and traders, agricultural scientists and international standard organisations, governmental and non-governmental organisations. Since the start of the programme in 2012, we have reached some 30,000 coffee farmers in Brazil, Honduras, Kenya, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Vietnam with the Tchibo Joint Forces!® programme, and enabled many of them to gain certification in accordance with the requirements of the internationally recognised standards organisations Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, UTZ Certified, or validation to the baseline standards of the 4C Association.
Demand-driven further development of the TJF!® qualification programme
We examine the effectiveness of our involvement in the supply chain as part of the analysis of our overall strategy. This also involves checking our activities against current global developments and societal expectations, as well as against our own ambition to accelerate a sustainable alignment of the coffee sector. Both the global context and societal expectations have changed in recent years, as shown, for example, by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Initial evaluations also show that we are not yet adequately meeting our own aspirations for making an impact. It has become clear that the coffee farmers require even more demand-driven support, both with regard to the farmer’s own state of development and the country-specific context. After all, they face a myriad of challenges ranging from climate change to increased production costs, markets that have become more complex, and insufficient educational opportunities for their children. That is why we have further developed Tchibo Joint Forces!®. Our goal is to better meet the different needs and development stages in our premium segment supply chain through a broader approach. The core of this development is the shift from the previous modular training programme to a toolbox. We want to contribute to the improvement of local and regional structures in line with the principle of “help for self-help.” This toolbox is tailored to the different needs of each region, is scalable, and goes beyond the existing training modules.
The toolbox essentially comprises the following components:
- Training offers
- Long-term supply contracts
- Certifications according to the requirements of international standard organisations
- Educational offers (for children)
- Community projects
The aim is to use the measures from the toolbox to increase the quality and quantity of the participating farmers’ coffee and increase profitability. On the long term the aim is to improve the local structures in such a way that the measures have a lasting effect. For instance, we offer training sessions on using fertilisers and pesticides, on accounting, and the sales processes. By maintaining long-term, stable supplier relationships and reinforcing compliance in the supply chain with standards organisations, we maintain and improve the conditions for growing high-quality coffee. We also focus on specific topics, such as farming as a family business, or educational opportunities for children and teens, to also involve the farmers’ families and communities in sustainable development and thus improve the overall living conditions in these regions.
Initial assessment of the effectiveness of Tchibo Joint Forces!® in Brazil
In 2016 we began to assess the effectiveness of Tchibo Joint Forces!®, to identify the measures that help farmers the most. The first assessment was carried out at the Minas Gerais project in Brazil where we buy Fairtrade-certified green coffee from COOPFAM. One of the most important findings of this assessment was that the coffee farmers prefer to sell their beans to the COOPFAM cooperative, as they offer them competitive prices, and consider their training offers to be helpful. Most would like to sell exclusively to COOPFAM, but not all coffee beans are accepted due to a lack of quality in some cases. At the same time, it emerged that there are still no adequate best-practice methods regarding the use of pesticides, only for weeding and pruning. A need for improvement was seen during post-harvest processes (e.g. drying processes and storage). All in all, the farmers cannot estimate their costs very well, and do not keep a record of these costs.
Based on the results of the effectiveness assessment, we came up with the following measures: The farmers will receive training to improve post-harvest practices as well as for profitability calculation. The participation of women will be increased in addition to the existing COOPFAM programmes. Best practice for the control of pests and diseases will be presented, and taste training (‘cupping’) will be given to improve the understanding of coffee grades.
From now on, a baseline evaluation is planned for each new project. We have defined a separate project focal area for this within the Tchibo Joint Forces!® framework.
Tchibo Joint Forces Qualification Program!®
30.000 coffee farmers have participated in the TJF!® qualification program to date.
Three new Tchibo Joint Forces!® projects will launch in 2017: in Guatemala, Honduras and Tanzania – three regions where we source sustainable green coffee grades, e.g. for our ‘Privat’ coffees. In the projects, we will work with non-governmental organisations, standards organisations, and retailers towards the goal of making coffee cultivation sustainable and profitable long-term for the farmers, so that they and their families can improve their living conditions and we can ensure the availability our green coffee grades.