Friday, June 16, 2017

70. New Dry Mill in Rubengera, Rwanda

16 June, 2017
Had the awesome opportunity to see the progress at the new dry mill being built in Rubengera, Rwanda. KOPAKAMA cooperative has been a key part of the community leadership team bringing this big project to fruition. It will employ about six technicians full time, year-round, and 30 or so "helpers" depending on volumes, and potentially 100 female "sorters" as part-time work when there is demand. In addition to bringing employment to this rural area, it also allows the seven cooperating producer organizations to improve quality via better control of the "next step" in the value chain.

David, the technician from BrazAfric, gave Frederic Hakizimana, KOPAKAMA washing station manager, Ildefonse Musafili, translator for Artisan Coffee Imports, and me the tour and said they expect to have it ready to go in 30-40 days.

Monday, March 6, 2017

69. Reducing the Gender Data Gap - IWCA Releases New Estimates

Mar. 6, 2017
Harvesting coffee. Photo credit: R. Church
As chairperson of the IWCA Research Alliance, I'm excited for the latest post on IWCA's blog: Click here.

The blog shares the following new estimates of female coffee producers by country:
Rwanda: 113,846, 32% of total
Costa Rica: 15,450, 34% of the total
El Salvador: 6,700, 33% of total
Guatemala: 4,000 - 7,000, 19 - 22% of total
(Sources detailed below.)

It was surprising to me, and today many others express astonishment, that the number of women in the coffee value chain is not tracked by more organizations. As the IWCA blog shares, the ICO does not track it. Neither does CQI, SCAA, SCAE, NCA, the World Bank, ACDI-VOCA, Technoseve nor any of the other international organizations one might think would be concerned with such estimates. But many national organizations do dedicate resources to this kind of research. 
This portion copied from IWCA's blog:
The IWCA Research Alliance recognized the need and utilizes IWCA's uniquely well-suited volunteer structure for tackling this gender data gap. 
  • From Rwanda, IWCA's volunteer Zafarani Uwingabire, identified the number of female producers in the 2015 coffee census report published by Rwanda's National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), which was released in May 2016.
  • From Costa Rica, volunteer Gabriela Soto gathered the estimate from Instituto del Cafe de Costa Rica (ICAFE). As is often the case in research, her "result" raised as many questions as it answered. How valid is this number? Does it include names of women who may be 'registered' as coffee farmers, but in reality are never on the farm? Does it include all the small producers, even if they are not registered? 
  • For Guatemala, volunteer Blanca Castro met with Anacafe and Luisa Fernanda Correa Mancia, one of Anacafe's technicians, shared their current estimates from two different sources. One, from the small producers organization put the percentage of women producers higher than the estimate from the database of registered producers during last harvest 2016/2017.
    Mothers and coffee farmers.
    Photo credit: Higher Grounds Coffee Trading
  • For El Salvador, volunteer Maria Botto, who is a coffee producer herself, dug into her own records from the Consejo (El Salvador's national extension group) to find the figures they published for 2013. The Consejo is in touch with Ms. Botto to share updated numbers later this year.
Acting as the platform in coffee focused on organizing, researching, training and empowering women in coffee, the IWCA has established legal chapters now in 20 producing countries. [Learn more about IWCA's 20 chapters here.] The organization proudly collaborates with many actors across the industry to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2017.
Preparion for fertilizer. Photo credit: R. Church
Supporting families and homes. Photo credit: R. Church
Sorting. Photo credit: R. Church
Transporting. Photo credit: R. Church
Getting paid. Photo credit: R. Church

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

68. More Research on Climate Change

February 22, 2017
As shared in a post yesterday, more and more research is appearing on the dire topic of climate change and how it affects coffee and coffee farmers.

TWIN, a coffee NGO and trading company based in the UK, has just released a report with four case studies that include Nicaragua and Uganda.

Today an article in Daily Coffee News discusses the new report from TWIN:

This link takes you straight to an on-line version of the report. On page 28, there is a short synopsis of the report's findings related to on-farm practices to adapt to climate change. It categorizes measures such as shade trees, erosion control, diversification and improved fertilizers as "no-regret" measures that contribute to improved sustainability of production, but are not specifically addressing climate adaptation. For example, climate change in Nicaragua appears to be affecting phenology (esp. flowering), however none of the promoted practices respond to this change.

Pruning helps trees withstand climate change.

Mulching helps the soil retain moisture and other nutrients.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

67. For Coffee, Climate Change is a Reality and Research is On-going

21. February, 2017
Climate change is not a theoretical discussion for coffee farmers. The question is "when" and "how" to deal with it. Unlike some folks in comfortable chairs in oval offices in Washington D.C., coffee farmers do not have the luxury of discussing "if" it exists. So organizations across the coffee industry are tackling the issue, hoping to learn from farmer experiences and share the best of what is known with farmers who may be struggling to adapt.

In December 2016 a colleague of mine at Michigan State University, Aniseh Bro, finished her Ph.D. in Community Sustainability on adaptation to climate change by coffee farmers in Nicaragua. [Formal title is: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Livelihoods: A Study on Economic and Ecological Sustainability Among Coffee Producers in the Highlands of Nicaragua.] 

Her thesis explores potential pathways for climate change adaptation via three separate studies. 
  1. First, she looks at the characteristics of coffee producers in northern Nicaragua. Bro explores their attitudes towards risk through the use of experimental risk games. She finds that household food insecurity is a determinant of risk aversion, and that coffee income is important insofar as it results in greater food security.  Below is a graphic depicting the relationships:

The slide below shows farmers' responses with disaggregation to show which responses are due to which of three shocks: pests, drought or flood.

This study also mentions the gender gap. Women are consistently worse off than men in this sample from northern Nicaragua. They are more vulnerable and more food insecure. Therefore, equitable interventions are needed. The table below shows some of the data, and a tell-tale public relations message is also shown in the photo to the left.
2. In the second study, Bro uses choice experiments to elicit farmers' preferences for shade incorporation into coffee farms. Shade helps protect soils, promote biodiversity and mitigate effects of higher temperatures from climate change or other causes. She finds that for a small pay premium, farmers are willing to incorporate additional shade into their farms. An unexpected finding is that farmers are not willing to give up any coffee income to have better access to pesticides, a likely reflection of the recent leaf rust outbreak in the country and the poor institutional response.
 3. The third study analyzes the degree to which cooperatives help farmers have adaptive capacity to climate change. Results show that cooperative membership is associated with higher adoption of practices recommended for adapting to climate change, such as planting shade trees and mulching. Cooperative membership is also a significant determinant of practices that promote water conservation.