Tchibo Joint Forces!®
GRI 203-1; GRI 413-1
In the supply chain: support for smallholders and their families
Our Tchibo Joint Forces!® qualification programme is dedicated to the coffee farmers in our supply chains. 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 34,000 coffee farmers in Brazil, Honduras, Kenya, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Guatemala, and Vietnam with the Tchibo Joint Forces!® programme, and enabled approximately 20,000 of them to gain certification in accordance with the requirements of the internationally recognised standards organisations Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance und UTZ, or validation to the baseline standards of the 4C Association.
In 2017 we launched three new Tchibo Joint Forces!® projects in Guatemala, Honduras and Tanzania. We obtain sustainable green coffee quality from these regions, e.g. for our Privat coffee range. In these projects, we collaborate with NGOs, standard organisations and retailers, and seek to help make coffee cultivation sustainable and profitable long-term for farmers, so that they and their families can improve their living conditions and we can secure our supply of green coffee grades.
Demand-driven further development of the TJF!® qualification programme
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 myriad challenges ranging from climate change to increased production costs, markets that have become more complex, and insufficient educational opportunities for their children. Our goal in developing the programme is to work with farmers, cooperatives and other local actors to pinpoint the different needs through a process- and dialogue-oriented approach, and identify and test joint solutions. In particular, we want to further expand the greater consideration of the specific requirements of local farmers and cooperatives. The most important result of the development to date 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 in sustainable cultivation, management skills, soil analysis, adaptation to climate change, quality improvement, and increasing production
- Long-term supply contracts
- Certifications according to the requirements of international standard organisations
- Educational offers (for children)
- Community projects
The aim is to increase the quality and quantity of the participating farmers’ coffee and thus, their profitability. We want to improve the local structures in such a way that the measures have a lasting effect – even if this takes time. For instance, we fund our partners’ training on using fertilisers and pesticides, on accounting, and on the sales process. 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. We carried out the first baseline assessment 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: they pay competitive prices, and offer training that the farmers feel is 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 identified during post-harvest processes (e.g. drying processes and storage). All in all, the farmers are not very good at estimating their costs, nor do they keep a record of these costs.
Based on the results of the effectiveness assessment, we came up with the following measures: The farmers will be offered 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. In addition, best practice for the control of pests and diseases will be presented, and taste training (‘cuppings’) will be hosted to improve the understanding of coffee grades.
Following our positive experience in Brazil, in future we will focus even more on analysing specific local needs with the participation of the farmers’ families. For example, for the launch of a new project in Honduras in October 2017, we conducted several workshops and needs analyses together with Fairtrade, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC), our suppliers, cooperatives and local farmers. Now, we are working with the cooperatives and farmers to develop a project plan. In this first phase, our aim is to help them formulate their own needs and goals and develop their own solutions. We then make implementation possible through financial support, advice, and the provision of expertise.