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MARCH 2018


The future of coffee is in jeopardy. On the surface, the future is bright: coffee consumption is increasing at 2% annually, and millennials’ interest in premium ingredients and ethical sourcing bode well for speciality coffee specifically. Yet, smallholder coffee farmers face evergreater challenges, which is driving the next generation of farmers away from the crop. Climate change and other forms of environmental degradation are exacerbating this trend, forcing farmers to adjust practices that have been developed over generations without support or infrastructure.

Most support programs work with farmers

These problems stem from a disparity in

cooperatives or part of established supply

farmer capacity. While sophisticated large farmers and professional coffee estates use the latest techniques and agronomic technology to increase their yields year over year, 70% of farmers worldwide still yield only about four bags per hectare, which is 17% of the rate of the most productive farmers. That 70% isn’t the group that most sustainability programs serve, though - although it has the biggest upward potential.

who are already organized into chains, because they can efficiently and immediately deliver “sustainable coffee” to the market. Protecting the future of coffee, however, means working with that 70% at the bottom of the pyramid, the farmers that are difficult to reach but have enormous potential. It means putting farmers first, and recognizing that without them, the crop we rely on would cease to exist.

THE COFFEE FARMER PYRAMID The approach and strategy of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) focuses on empowering farmers at the "bottom of the pyramid" that others ignore, teaching them to become better farmers and informed entrepreneurs who can participate in the market place. When farmers have the knowledge and skills to lift themselves out of poverty and move up in the pyramid,  everybody, from farmers, to coffee-growing communities, to industry, to customers, wins. 

Preparing farmers to increase their yields is only possible with the continued investment and participation of corporate, NGO, and government partners. Over 25 years of experience, we have developed proven models of creating farmer organizations to deliver agronomy training, business training, gender equity and youth empowerment to the farmers who need it most. We’re asking you to join us in a sustained partnership that empowers farmers, and makes a real impact in their lives.

HOW DO WE WORK? EMPHASIZING THE BEING BEHIND THE BEAN The work of HRNS is happening deep in the communities where we have been working as trusted partners of coffee farming families for many years. In contrast to many other coffee sustainability programs, we focus on the communities who need the help most we support those farmers who are disconnected from information and markets and struggle to make a living. At the same time, these communities represent the future supply of of coffee, providing an important source of supply to the growing demand. The HRNS intervention model: Step 1: Identification of communities with potential. We look for communities with high potential to produce high quality coffee but are working below their productive and

Step 4: Formalizing farmer groups. The

quality potential and/or are particularly

concept of group cooperation to facilitate

threatened by climate change.

bulk input purchase, joint coffee processing and direct negotiations with exporters has

Step 2: Development of action plans.

been planted in the technical training during

Baseline data are collected which provide a

step 3, but will be rolled out in Step 4 in the

clearer picture of the needs in the

form of formalizing farmers into regional

community. Based on the data, interventions

groups which are equipped with clear rules

are designed in close coordination with

and responsibility. Over time, these groups

farmers, local coffee institutes and the

will become suppliers and partners to

exporters as strategic partners.

exporters, input suppliers and banks and will provide crucial services to farmers, such as

Step 3: Farmer to farmer training. HRNS

coffee processing, input supply, etc.

field staff facilitates Farmer Field schools to upgrade technical know-how to increase

Step 5: Scaling. In coordination with other

efficiency, help farmers to increase their

partners and local governments, regional

climate resilience, develop entrepreneurial

exchange between farmers is facilitated to

thinking. It is important to include the entire

better represent farmers' interests.

family in this step to make sure that the farm is understood as a family business.Â


Trifinio provides a useful window into the impact of the HRNS approach. This region, located in the tri-border area of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, is a prime growing site, and has the potential to yield some of the regions richest coffee flavors. Coffee accounts for 70% of family earnings in the region, and supports for than 7,000 local families. And, the region is a biodiversity hotspot, and contains the headwaters of the three largest rivers in Central America. Since 2008 HRNS has been working with private sector partners as well as with larger public donors to make the region a model for environmental responsibility, social equity, and economic efficiency. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. When HRNS scaled up its work here, climate change was already evident in the region, bringing prolonged wet periods followed by drought the likes of which farmers there had never seen. At the same time, yields were plummeting due to a severe outbreak of coffee leaf rust. The unorganized smallholder farmers who are the region’s main producers simply did not have the tools or expertise necessary to handle these challenges.

Today, farmers in the region are organized and empowered, with more than 50% selling their coffee through farmer organizations, cutting out the middle men (coyotes). This means profits make it to the farmers themselves, but it also means they can implement better techniques, which are good for all of us. Results from Trifinio include Every dollar invested HRNS yielded almost $4 additional income for a farmer Yields are up nearly 20%, boosting farmer incomes More than twice as many farmers are using soil analysis based fertilizer recommendations and Integrated Pest Management, to minimize ecological impact. Today, Trifinio has transformed itself into a model for the future of coffee. Through 10 years of investment with a variety of partners, we have created strong organizations that will permanently secure the region's coffee viability.

CONTACT US Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung North America 42 West St, Suite 201 11222 Brooklyn, NY Jan von Enden, General Manager

Securing future of coffee  
Securing future of coffee