Feed the Future partnership for climate smart coffee officially launches

Against the backdrop of growing global demand for coffee, a new consortium of research institutions, conservationists and coffee experts has been established to operationalise best practices in adapting to the effects of climate change within the coffee sector.

The US Agency for International Development through Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative and the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) announced this new cooperation during Sintercafé, held 7-11 November in Costa Rica. With participation from the Initiative for Coffee & Climate (C&C), World Coffee Research (WCR), Conservation International (CI), Root Capital (Root), the Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Sustainable Food Lab (SFL), the consortium will strive to create a shared definition of climate change adaptation coffee farming practices and to offer the private sector practical pathways to adopt ‘climate smart’ approaches.

Creating a path towards a more sustainable coffee sector, this consortium will leverage the substantial experience that exists within the sector to help to protect small-holder farmers’ livelihoods throughout the developing world. The project will involve both the compiling and publication of the best ‘tools’ within the sector as well as implementing pilots of these practices in partnership with the private sector in Guatemala, Honduras and Uganda.

We want to make it as easy and effective as possible for the private sector to invest in proven climate change adaptations. There is already significant data available reflecting both the urgent need to change farming practices globally and the cost benefits of doing so quickly. Our goal is to align existing experience and streamline private sector investment in ‘climate smart’ practices,” says Jan von Enden, HRNS North America.

Kevin Fath, an agriculture development specialist with USAID, explains, “The millions of small-holder farmers who serve as the backbone of the coffee sector are increasingly threatened by changing climatic conditions. We believe we can improve livelihoods in coffee growing communities by bringing together these expert organizations with a specific focus on coordinating science and developing tools the private sector can use to drive investment in climate smart coffee production.”

At the project launch event held 11 November, private-sector stakeholders participated in a panel discussion on climate change adaptation, where they highlighted the relevance of the project’s objectives to the sector.

“We at Starbucks see this initiative very positively because sustainability is fundamental, for us as a company and for the coffee sector as well,” adds Carlos Mario Rodriguez, director of global agronomy for Starbucks. “I especially like to see the number of organizations that this project is bringing together, because it is important to review what is already being done to address climate change and how we as a coffee sector can align ourselves to avoid duplicating efforts. The resources are limited, but on the other hand, there are many different groups working to find solutions to the climate change problem. One of the most critical elements will be to integrate all these different efforts and to reach consensus in order to be more effective and use our limited resources very efficiently.”

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