DR Congo and Uganda among countries to benefit from new Technoserve specialty coffee projects
Nonprofit organization TechnoServe has announced four initiatives to boost the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers. Over the next five years, these new projects are expected to benefit nearly 90,000 farmers in four countries.
TechnoServe will work in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the first time in the organization’s history under the Feed the Future Strengthening Value Chains Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by Tetra Tech. The project will support the coffee value chain in the country’s South Kivu province.
Over the course of five years, the project aims to enable 15,000 coffee-growing households to increase their yields by 30 percent, while supporting local processing businesses to export 50 containers (worth more than $11 million) of specialty coffee and offer farmers a higher, more stable price for their crop.
Years of conflict in eastern DRC have eroded the economy, diminished the productive and adaptive capacity of households, and discouraged private investment in economic activities. These dynamics have contributed to the large number of vulnerable households that have limited resiliency and capacity to respond to shocks and stresses.
Today, the growing global demand for specialty coffee presents an opportunity for farmers in the highlands of South Kivu to earn higher prices for their crop.
To enable these farmers to seize this opportunity, TechnoServe will provide training on climate-smart techniques designed to improve productivity and coffee quality, and will work with cooperatives to establish and improve coffee washing stations (processing facilities that yield high-quality coffee).
Through a new project funded by Benckiser Stiftung Zukunft and Enveritas, TechnoServe will work to strengthen the livelihoods of 30,000 coffee farming families in Uganda. The $3 million grant will fund the delivery of TechnoServe’s Farm College agronomy training program to Robusta coffee growers in the country’s Western Region.
Uganda is one of the leading producers of Robusta coffee, which is an important cash crop for more than 1.3 million farmers across the country. With improved farming techniques, it is believed that farmers can improve coffee yields by an average of 50 percent.
Michael Kremer, the Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and Vivian Hoffmann, Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will lead a randomized controlled trial to analyze the project’s impact on farmers’ behavior, yields, and livelihoods.
Other countries outside Africa that the institution is set to introduce the coffee project include Honduras where The Sustainable Agricultural Improvement Plus (MAS+, for its acronym in Spanish) program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will directly benefit 32,000 smallholders growing coffee and beans in Honduras.
Coffee is Honduras’s most important export crop, and beans are vital to food security.
In Peru, a unique public-private partnership, the Coffee Alliance for Excellence (CAFE) brings together TechnoServe, USAID, impact investment firm Althelia Ecosphere, global coffee roaster JDE, and coffee exporter Perhusa to benefit 12,000 farming families.
The $21.5 million project will target former coca-growing areas in the regions of Huánuco, Ucayali, and San Martín, where coffee production is one of the most promising alternative development opportunities.
These projects build on the experience of TechnoServe’s renowned coffee practice, which has provided training to more than 325,000 farmers in a dozen countries over the past decade.
“TechnoServe’s decades of work in the global coffee sector have shown the transformative impact of connecting these farmers to information, capital, and markets,” said TechnoServe President and CEO William Warshauer. “While meeting growing consumer demand for unique and high-quality coffee, millions of smallholder farmers can lift themselves out of poverty and provide better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. We are proud to work on these new projects with a range of public and private sector partners who recognize the importance of this market-based approach to reducing poverty in the long term.”