Climate-Smart Coffee is possible

Date:24 September 2020
Climate-Smart Coffee is possible

The Alliance for Resilient Coffee has proved it.

During four years of intensive in-the-field project work, The Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) has developed significant knowledge and tools to make coffee climate-smart. Now it is upon the coffee industry to be ready to utilize the power of partnerships and make good use of these tools. Changing climates is threatening coffee production worldwide, and without direct action, will continue to threaten the global coffee supply chain for years to come. With a large, diffused problem such as rising temperatures, variable rainfall and harder to control pests and diseases, individual actors within the coffee sector may not know where to start. Through the consolidation of knowledge and climate expertise between partners, The Alliance for Resilient Coffee proved that the global coffee supply chain can become climate-smart and families can be empowered to mitigate climate threats.

ARC is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and comprised of seven leading partners; Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), Sustainable Food Lab (SFL), World Coffee Research (WCR), The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Conservation International (CI) and Root Capital. As part of the U.S. Government’s food security initiative, Feed the Future, ARC developed innovative tools such as country profiles, landscape assessments and a vulnerability tool to provide the sector and smallholders with clear guidance on how to mitigate changing climates. As ARC is phasing out end of September 2020, it is time for the next steps. “This is just the beginning. We are united by the importance of changing climates, its threat to the global coffee supply and the urgency for actors in the industry to get involved” states Stefan Ruge, Project Manager of ARC. The results and outcomes of ARC will be further used by the consortium partners in an effort to assist future initiatives and effective climate interventions in different coffee regions worldwide.

As of August 2020, the project reached a total of 6,530 smallholder families, including the participation of 2,100 women and 750 youth.

Throughout the last four years, ARC shared best adaptation practices and implemented climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Uganda, Guatemala and Honduras. Partnerships with roasters, traders and other companies in the sector, allowed for the analysis of climate risks, testing of new farming techniques and implementation of practical trainings for extension agents and coffee farmers. As a result, climate-smart practices were implemented in over 4,650 hectares of farmland, 441 Demonstration Plots that promote good agricultural and climate adaptation practices were established and 24 On Farm Technology Trials (OFTT) to measure the productivity of improved varieties were set up.

“The number of training events carried out on climate adaptation throughout the past years have also been pivotal for enhancing climate-smart agriculture in our project regions”, says Ruge. A total number of 1,450 training events on climate adaptation were carried out, covering topics on the use of cover crops, temporary shade and improved varieties to name a few. With more than 5,000 training hours and an overall attendance of 24,200 farmers, adoption rates on climate-smart practices such as temporary shade and improved root systems increased in Central America from 50% – 78% and from 26%- 32% respectively. In Uganda, adoption rates on integrated pests and disease management increased from 48% – 90%, erosion control from 3% – 57% and rainwater harvesting from 3% – 41%. As a result of the increased adoption of CSA practices, plant nutrition reportedly increased from 40% to 59%.

In addition to the on-field work carried out, leading to efficient farm management, in Central America, farmers’ production costs have significantly decreased from 108 USD/60kg gbe to 86 USD/60kg gbe by 2020. Consequently, farmer’s profitability has increased over 4 years from a net income of 31.0 USD/60kg gbe to 52.8 USD/60kg gbe. In Uganda, 71% of the 1,548 farmers trained on CSA practices reported that their yields have increased in the past three years.

In Uganda, ARC also piloted a gender component within the project to improve cooperation within households and subsequently, lead to an increase in adoption of climate-smart practices and technologies. 12 gender trainings took place to sensitize farmers, extension agents and community leaders about the relationship between gender and climate change and 439 farmers were educated about the power of jointly budgeting their coffee income to invest in CSA practices. 74 couples (148 farmers) have already began implementing their household plans and this is projected to increase their adoption of climate-smart technologies.

The Alliance for Resilient Coffee was managed by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS).

About Feed the Future

Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. For more information, visit

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