An estimated 125 million people around the world depend on coffee production for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the traditional coffee certification programs which aim to improve economic, environmental and social conditions for farmers and their communities reach only a small portion of them; but living and working conditions matter, regardless of whether or not farmers sell certified coffee.
That’s why LDC and Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) are working with NGOs, banks, governments, international institutions and other partners to support farmers whose production is not certified. Their coffee may not carry a certification stamp, but they still need urgent access to training, facilities, tools, and knowledge.
The project launched last November by LDC agronomists and JDE to train farmers in Indonesia is a good example. The three-year project aims to train and improve the living conditions and resilience of 3,500 non-certified, non-verified farmers and their families in Lampung province, on the island of Sumatra.
“There are various environmental and social issues in Indonesia’s coffee production,” says Mr. Do Ngoc Sy, Sustainability Manager, Asia Pacific at JDE, our project partner. “That’s why we engage with our direct suppliers, such as LDC, in an open exchange, to learn more about the key sustainability challenges, such as improper agrochemical use, deforestation, unsafe working conditions and climate change, and work together to address these.”
A focus on women
Based on the assumption that the average family in Lampung has four members, the project expects to benefit some 14,000 people overall. LDC places a special focus on women in all projects, as they play key roles in coffee production in Indonesia, including cultivation, processing and marketing. Yet these women do not have the same access to training, knowledge and development opportunities as men. All our initiatives on the ground aim to treat coffee farming as a family business, involving women as much as possible, for instance by organizing training either exclusively for women or jointly for husbands and wives.
Better soils for better harvests
As Mr. Sy points out, fertilizer use is a key aspect of environmental training. Inappropriate use affects the long-term health of soils, and unprotected exposure can pose a health risk to the farmer and his family’s health. It can also have a major impact on productivity and profitability. Our agronomists analyze soil types and train farmers to use fertilizers efficiently. We will also run information campaigns on the dangers of banned pesticides, and the potential for improved productivity by investing in agricultural equipment and storage.
As part of the project, our team also helps increase farmers’ margins through financial literacy training and access to financing. Beyond this specific JDE-LDC project, we also work to identify and set up complementary revenue streams, for example by supporting farmers to produce wood, fruit and other products to make their revenue more sustainable and less dependent on coffee, in areas where it is indispensable.