They say teamwork makes the dream work and the Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) project has proved this. The project which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), brought together seven leading international organizations in a consortium to collectively build the climate resilience of the Ugandan coffee supply chain. Now, the four-year project (October 2016 – September 2020) has come to an end and the ARC partners endeavor to share the learnings, outcomes and tools developed in the project with the Ugandan coffee sector.
The active partners in Uganda which consisted of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), World Coffee Research, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Conservation International and Root Capital used the coffee&climate (c&c) approach to test and develop five climate-smart agriculture tools. The c&c approach consists of five steps, which build upon one another to ultimately provide information and tools to support coffee farmers and private coffee companies to build their climate resilience (see figure 1).
Figure 1: The c&c approach to climate change adaptation in coffee
As there is no one-size-fits-all solution for climate change adaptation, the ARC partners combined their complementary expertise and tools to develop a set of solutions from country, to region to farm-level. At country-level and region-level, three tools were developed: the Climate Risk Country Profile, the Landscape Framework Assessment (LAF) and the Vulnerability Assessment. The Climate Risk Country Profile indicates key climate stressors and risks of different regions in Uganda with recommendations for climate smart actions. LAF is a tool that identifies how specific coffee regions are impacted by climate change and provides an action plan tailored to the area. The Vulnerably Assessment tool identifies farmers who are most vulnerable to climate change so that adaptation practices can be tailored to individual farming households.
At farm-level, two further tools were developed using the c&c approach: the On-Farm Technology Trials (OFTT) and the Climate Smart Investment Pathways (Stepwise). The OFTT tool tests a combination of coffee varieties against Climate Smart Adaptation (CSA) practices and Stepwise encourages farmers to adopt different CSA practices in four affordable steps.
Figure 2: The Climate Risk Country Profile tool
Figure 3: OFTT tool
Figure 4: Stepwise tool
In addition to the development of these tools, 1548 Ugandan farmers were trained in CSA practices and as a result, the overall, adoption of climate smart practices increased from 6% to 57%. Additionally, 71% of farmers acknowledge increase in coffee yields over the 4 years of the project.
In order to further strengthen the adoption of climate change adaptation practices, the ARC partners also promoted gender equality in coffee households and farmer organizations. These gender trainings educated over 400 farmers and 74 farming couples about the power of effectively budgeting their coffee income to invest in CSA practices. Johnson and Eunice Byaruhanga were among these couples and were also supported to establish a clonal coffee nursery. This was done in a bid to champion farming as a family business and propagate climate resistant coffee varieties. The couple now manage their income better and plan to expand their nursery business to supply their community with high yielding, disease-free and resistant coffee varieties.
Eunice and Johnson in their nursery
“It is a dream come true to be selected to run this enterprise as a family and the household plan that we created will be the key to our success!” – Johnson Byaruhanga
Over the four years of project implementation, the ARC consortium has worked together with multiple private sector companies to generate knowledge and tools that make coffee climate smart. Some of these companies have already taken up the tools in their supply chains, but there is still a lot to be done. Although ARC has come to an end, the partner organizations have plans for upcoming projects to continue to make coffee supply chains climate-smart!