New report finds support aimed at smallholder coffee farmers delivers more benefit than agribusiness models

© Global Coffee Platform

Global Coffee Platform analysis of the Coffee Partnership for Tanzania (CPT) has revealed a strong case for supporting smallholder production systems. The model was found to result in far better developmental benefits when compared to large-scale estate or agribusiness models.

The CPT was a four-year public-private partnership initiated in 2012 by a US$8 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was managed by DEG, one of Europe’s largest development finance institutions, and received co-funding of US$11 million from six private sector partners.

The main aim of the project was to increase net income for 90,000 coffee farmers in Tanzania, largely driven through productivity and quality increases. Training on good agricultural practices and farmer-to-farmer extension approaches was rolled out to over 100,000 farmers. Farmer field schools helped spread the reach of the project.

By the end of the four year period:

  • 35,084 farmers were certified under voluntary sustainability standards and marketing their coffee as certified at a premium.
  • Over 64% of farmers adopted at least 50% of the key good agricultural practices.
  • Farmers supported throughout the full four-year programme saw Arabica yields grow by 22%.

The research revealed that showing quick results, for example on demo plots, is key to encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices in the long term.

However, it raised the question of whether a one-size-fits-all approach is most effective, and found a large degree of variation in terms of individual progress made.

The case for supporting smallholder production systems was found to be compelling. Although financial returns of extension work and small-scale producer support takes time to materialise, investment in sustainability work is worthwhile, not only for the farmers themselves, but for the value chain partners and service providers working with them.

Read the full report here.

Posted on 06/11/2017