4C, Melitta, DEG partner to improve working and living conditions for Colombian coffee smallholders

4c certification system

4C Services and Melitta – Division Coffee have announced the start of a joint project on “Improving working and living conditions for coffee smallholders in Colombia”.

The project is also co-financed by Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) with funds from the program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“We are purchasing 4C certified coffee since the founding of 4C, and we annually increase our percentage of sustainably certified coffee. We are happy to reach a new level of partnership with this joint project,” says Jan Rischkopf, Sustainability Manager at Melitta Europa – Division Coffee.

“For us, the improvement of livelihoods of coffee smallholders in Colombia is crucial to ensure a sustainable supply of Colombian coffee in the future. For our Melitta® Kaffee des Jahres 2020, we are sourcing 4C certified coffee from Colombia.”

The project was successfully launched on 15 June 2020. Its main objectives include improving sustainable agricultural management of Colombian coffee smallholder farms to contribute to long-term economic and ecologic viability, increasing attractiveness for young adults, as well as market uptake in Europe.

4C says coffee production is one of the most important agricultural activities for the Colombian economy. Yet, aging farmers and ecologic and economic challenges, amplified by climate change, make coffee production less attractive for smallholders. Families, especially young adults, are leaving coffee production for growing other crops or migrate from the land.

Introduction of good, socially and environmentally sustainable farming practices is crucial to maintain future coffee production in Colombia, improving the efficiency of farm management and generating increased income, and together with certification, enabling better market access and trade opportunities.

The project will develop and implement, based on a thorough baseline-study, an improvement program for the smallholders with the target of long-term viability as well as increasing attractiveness of the sector for young adults. Farmers, young adults, and other stakeholders in the pilot regions and other interested actors in the sector will be involved.

Implementation-oriented trainings for master trainers, young adults and farmers, and the set-up of demonstration farms to serve as farmer field schools, will be central to the program, as well as the linkage of more sustainable coffee production to buyers in the European market.

“I am excited that, together with its partners, 4C will take action to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia,” says Myriel Camp, 4C Program Manager.

“Through this common effort, we pursue improved agricultural practices implementation by up to 1000 coffee farmers who in their turn can expect better yields of sustainable and deforestation-free coffee. We also hope that up to 500 young adults will be motivated to remain a part of a sustainable coffee production process.”

Overall, the project intends to achieve improvements in multiple areas, such as strengthening capacity for adaptation to climate change, increasing income diversification to reduce livelihood vulnerability, and empowering young adults and expanding their working opportunities in the coffee sector.

Further key aspirations of the project include improved access to resources and technical assistance, enhanced relationships between the coffee producers and industry, and enabling increased sustainable coffee production through 4C certification.

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