Rainforest Alliance – At their Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee estate in Cajamarca, Peru, Juan Jiménez, his wife Julia Cabrera, and their two children have successfully restored ecosystems and wildlife. Your plantation is now more productive and adaptable to climate change, as well as providing a habitat for wild animals and plants.
The great bulk of the world’s 12.5 million coffee estates are run by smallholders like Jiménez and Cabrera. In fact, smallholders produce about three-quarters of the world’s coffee. In Latin America, East Africa, and Asia, the Rainforest Alliance works with almost 400,000 accredited coffee producers. They are mostly small farmers who collectively farm over a million hectares of land.
Coffee farmers, on the other hand, confront numerous obstacles, including rising temperatures, crop diseases, climate shocks, and price instability. The Rainforest Alliance strives to improve coffee farmers’ positions by connecting them to responsible markets and providing training in climate-smart and regenerative farming methods that can increase harvests and income. Furthermore, our certification program encourages a variety of innovations, such as digital documentation, establishes requirements for coffee buyers to invest in sustainable production, and employs a continuous improvement model that encourages farmers to take more risks on the road to sustainability.
Furthermore, because the well-being of farmers and workers is important to a farm’s long-term viability, the Rainforest Alliance certification program promotes the human rights of everyone involved in the coffee industry.
Here are some examples of how we are trying to improve the sustainability of the coffee industry:
In Uganda, farmers wash coffee cherries.
Despite tremendous advancements in agricultural human rights, there are still far too many examples of child and forced labor, workplace discrimination, and harassment in the production of various crops, including coffee. Explicit prohibitions are frequently ineffectual, shifting criminal activity into a gray area where our auditors have a harder time tracking them down. It’s one of the reasons the Rainforest Alliance certification program takes a risk-based, assess-and-address approach to human rights protection that emphasizes prevention, shared vigilance and engagement, and continual development.
In the case of child labor, for example, our certification program requires farms to establish an internal preventive committee. When a case is discovered, the plantation or business must assist the family in resolving the issue, such as by locating a birth certificate for school attendance, increasing household income, or taking other steps.
Plantations and businesses can use our certification program to identify and address gender disparity in their processes. Companies and plantations might set some of their own progress metrics to encourage ongoing improvement. Kyagalanyi Coffee, a Ugandan coffee exporter, for example, has a proven gender program that encourages married couples to arrange their budgets jointly. As a result, they track the number of families in which women have an equal say in how money is made and spent in order to track progress toward gender parity.
The Rainforest Alliance designated Finca El Platanillo in Guatemala as the first coffee plantation.
Climate change has an especially negative impact on coffee production. The spread of so-called coffee rust, a fungus that has already decimated huge estates in Latin America, is being aided by rising temperatures. This also encourages the dangerous coffee cherry beetle to reproduce. Due to the fact that coffee can only survive in specific temperature ranges, global warming is pushing some producers to relocate or perhaps go out of business.
Our certification program encourages farmers to use climate-friendly farming methods. The Rainforest Alliance conducts an on-site evaluation of climate change vulnerability before developing a customized action plan. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, these strategies are referred to as “smart.” Planting native shade trees that shield crops from bright sunlight, hard winds, and heavy rainfall can help coffee farmers become more resilient. It’s equally as important to use the proper amount of insecticides and fertilizers at the right time, because misuse raises prices and kills beneficial insects. Greenery can be planted between coffee rows to allow the soil to absorb and retain more moisture, allowing the roots of the coffee plants to get water during dry seasons.
For Loyola Estate/Joseph Coffee Curing Works in Tamil Nadu, India, rising temperatures and uncertain rainfall have become a significant concern. This certified plantation has used strategies including mulching and preemptive watering to address climate concerns during the last seven years. Even more impressive is the fact that the family farm has planted native tree species such as Acrocarpus fraxinifolius, jackfruit, and jambul on more than half of its land.
Evelyn Nyawira, a certified coffee farmer in Mutira, Kenya, says she and her neighbors “learned to prevent our land from being washed away” during Rainforest Alliance training. We’ve learned how to plant shade trees and keep our coffee from drying out when the weather turns hotter due to climate change.” She goes on to say that utilizing more environmentally friendly ways has resulted in higher coffee quality and a better way of life for the farmers.
Farmers’ livelihoods are also a focus of climate-smart policies.
Three studies from the previous five years reveal that certified East African smallholders earn 179 percent more from coffee production than non-certified estates.
In recent years, international coffee prices have been exceedingly erratic, putting a strain on producers’ lives. For much of 2020, coffee costs were 30% lower than they had been for the previous ten years. Farmers will be unable to balance out their production expenses as a result of this. Although prices have improved since then, they are still not stable enough for farmers to make long-term investments in their businesses.
The accreditation aims to assist coffee producers in increasing their production and profitability via the use of more environmentally friendly technologies and improved farm management. More precise fertilization, such as soil sampling, can help to reduce nitrogen emissions and increase soil health while also increasing yields and income. Diversifying your sources of income can also help.