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.