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Sparking the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of youth

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Webinar #2: Tuesday, May 26: 9am PDT/ 12pm EDT/ 6pm CEST/ 7pm EAT
Exploring gender inclusion within farming families and organizations
Webinar #3: Tuesday, June 2: 9am PDT/ 12pm EDT/ 6pm CEST/ 7pm EAT
Building resiliency in the face of a changing climate
Webinar #4: Tuesday, June 9: 9am PDT/ 12pm EDT/ 6pm CEST/ 7pm EAT
Creating strong and thriving farmer organizations

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Webinar 1 Questions & Answers 

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Question 1: How do you prioritize the issues facing the youth and is there a consistent formula for success?  

Answer: There are overarching challenges shared across the areas where we work, but of course, specific issues can depend on each country and community. One of the key activities is establishing a baseline study to learn more about the local context. Participatory studies with farmers and farmer organizations to discuss needs, gaps, areas of opportunity, and how youth are represented in their communities. Looking at youth populations in the community, low participation of youth in already established Farmer Organization, vulnerability of youth in the community, age, and education access. We then take our program model and align activities to best meet the context from these studies. 

Question 2: How do you engage young coffee producers in a sector they are currently walking away from (i.e. due to low returns, limited access to land, etc.)

Answer: One way to engage young farmers is to explore with them the range of possibilities in coffee. Many youth have not had the opportunity to see how each step of the value chain works together from farm to cup. Coffee is more than just a crop and there are a number of ways to work and stay involved, including coffee processing, evaluating quality, cupping, barista skills, in additional to on-farm practices. It is also important to emphasize and demonstrate that coffee production, in addition to other agricultural crops, are a business, requiring professional skills as with any other part of the value chain. It’s also important to look at diversification, how young farmers can increase different income sources, to stabilize household income and promote resilience in the face of fluctuating prices, a changing climate and other challenges. 

Question 3: What type of impact do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will have on young farmers? 

Answer: It does vary from country to country, depending on government regulations. However, in general because so many coffee farmers and entrepreneurs belong to the informal economy, and due to all the restrictions is difficult to trade their products and to operate, there are a lot of economic consequences for them. We are focused on a combination of ensuring these rural communities are getting the information available from their national governments, checking on them for their personal and family wellbeing, as well as determining avenues to continue training virtually. We are working on virtual classroom options in areas where youth have internet access at home, or short video trainings and flyers/information images for youth and farmers that may not have internet access all the time or can only receive small photosThe advantage is that youth embrace the idea of trying new approaches, using new technologies, and other practices which are outside of the “traditional way of doing things.” Even before this current situation youth were using WhatsApp chats to stay in contact, so moving to digital platforms and new ways of sharing information is something in many ways they already feel more comfortable doing. 

For additional information on our overall response, please see this blog article here: https://www.hrnstiftung.org/covid-19-how-hrns-informs-coffee-communities-and-remains-committed-during-this-crisis/ 

Question 4: What should the role of importers, roasters, and coffee shops be to help alleviate the struggles of young farmers? 

Answer: Importers, roasters, and coffee shops all play a key role in in connecting the reality, both challenges and opportunities, in coffee producing communities to customers and coffee lovers. You are all well positioned to elevate the voices and contributions of young farmers and encourage you customers and suppliers to consider upand-coming generations now in planning for the future of the coffee sector. We encourage opening spaces in the market that support coffee which promotes the participation of young farmers in the value chain, and supports farmers organizations making these investments in their young members. In addition, once you are back to taking trips to visit farmers and farming families, it’s a wonderful opportunity to not only cup coffee, but also to interact with young farmers, sharing experiences, telling them your coffee story, and validating their critical role in the future of the industry. 

Question 5: What resources are available if an organization would like to get more involved in supporting the cause? 

Answer: Here is a list of current resources: 

Question 6: How is Alejandro dealing with the current situation? Isn’t his shop closed now? 

Answer: As in many places around the world youth’s businesses are closed. Some youth are now offering home delivery, and some are also selling new products, like gel and masks (using virtual platforms). For Alejandro – his shop is also closed. He is looking at ways he can adapt with new business approaches, but always related to coffee. 

Question 7: How do you select the communities to work with, or do you go for organizations? And if so, how many young adults participate in those programs? 

Answer: Across all our regions, we work in area where we see the opportunity to collaborate with smallholder farming families. In regions where we have been working for many years, we have a close relationship with a number of farmer organizations, who are key partners in helping us identify specific challenges which we can address together and expand our outreach. We leverage these relationships to inform new regions that we can reach out to and successful strategies to promote positive community development. In Central America, most farmers work independently, outside of formal farmer organizations. A key focus of our projects is to develop these collaborative structures and support them to develop internal capacities to strengthen and develop member services, commercial relationships, and market access. It can also be the case where organizations already exist, but are limited in their ability to operative effectively, so we work together with them to build their capacities. In Central America we are currently working with over 850 young women and men in our youth-specific programs. In Tanzania we are currently working with over 600 young women and men in our youth-specific programs. 

Question 8: What do feel are the characteristics of the more successful farmer organizations that you have worked with? 

Answer: There are several characteristics, including:

  • Organizations that have developed internal structures (like working committees) and operational strategies to address areas of opportunities and plan for the future
  • Transparent, farmer-led structures, promoting trust and collaboration among members 
  • Organizations that support equal and equitable access to knowledge, services, and leadership positions, utilizing the skills and abilities of all members to their fullest potential
  • Organizations able to invest in their members through training and other types of support
  • Organizations which have developed to the point of being able to offer aggregate services (bulk sales, purchases, etc.), have central processing equipment to standardize quality, and better control and tracking of farm-level and aggregate data.  

Question 9: Are there any supports or collaborations from the governments or private supports during the program implementation? If yes, what kind of collaboration or supports? 

Answer: Collaboration is key across every region where we work and it is because we have strong partnerships at the local and national level that we can effectively implement sustainable structure with resources from our international partners. Everyone’s participation is necessary for positive transformation. 

In Central America we collaborate with government ministries (for example, Ministerio de Agricultura Ganaderia y Alimentación en Guatemala, Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganadería, Secreataria MiAmbiente/Instituto Conservacion Forestal (ICF), Ministries of the Environment and Natural Resources in Honduras). In Trifinio specifically we work very closely with the Trifinio Comission (led by government representatives from each country), which oversees development and implementation of Trifinio Plan (sustainable development of the region). In additional for one of our most recent projects we are working with the the Oficina Presidencial de Cambio Climático, the Presidential Office of Climate Change in Honduras, a leading institution to advise in the development and articulation of public policy and national investments regarding climate change. Collaboration from the private sector come from across coffee sector, including importers, exporters, roasters, individual coffee shops, equipment manufactures, and individual coffee lovers. 

For more on our partnerships, please see here about HRNS: https://www.hrnstiftung.org/our-partnerships/                                                                                                    And here about the Coffee Kids Supporters Circle: https://www.coffeekids.org/our-supporters/ 

Question 10: Could you please comment on your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on coffee prices? 

Answer: Overall what we are hearing from our partners in the private sector and coffee associations, consumption of conventional coffee, grocery store purchasing, and online ordering is increasing due to increased amount of time people spend in their homes. There has been an impact on the consumption of specialty coffee, especially because there are fewer cafes open, logistics of getting coffee to customers, consumers focusing on more traditional tastes and less experimentation, and less disposable income. This is making the market for specialty coffees right now more difficult, which will continue to have an evolving impact on specialty coffee producers. In some cases their contracts have been cancelled, or re-negotiated, or delayed. However, it is important to highlight that there are companies who continue to support producers understanding the difficulty of this situation and that we are all facing this together. 

More stories about COVID-19:

Webinar: United by Change

View the recording! Additional Resources: Read more about our key findings by downloading our two flyers here: Blogpost: How to address COVID-19 in smallholder communities A blogpost from our HRNS Managing Director: Michael Opitz Webinar Questions & Answers ...