A new study published by the Fairtrade Foundation warns that 93 per cent of Fairtrade coffee farmers who were surveyed in the pilot research in Kenya are already experiencing climate change, including more erratic rainfall and an increase in pests and diseases.
Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Africa completed this pilot study to capture the impacts of climate change on coffee production and the steps farmers are taking to adapt to increasing global temperatures. The study includes testimonies from farmers collected through Fairtrade’s mobile phone reporting project, FairVoice. It spotlights farmers producing Arabica varieties of coffee, which are grown for their improved taste, and are particularly sensitive to changes in average temperature compared to the more heat-tolerant Robusta.
“Our vision for FairVoice is to use technology to create greater connections for farmers and workers ensuring they have a greater voice and influence within value chains and in Fairtrade,” says Rachel Wadham, Head of Evidence and Insights at the Fairtrade Foundation.
“This will give commercial actors a greater understanding of farmers’ needs in their supply chains and will enable farmers’ voices and insights on the issues that affect them to have greater visibility in sector discussions.”
Fairtrade makes training and programs available to producers so they can use the latest agricultural methods, and 90 per cent of coffee farmers surveyed reported applying a variety of new farming strategies as a result. Through new farming methods, farmers are also increasing biodiversity, which is improving the long-term sustainability of their businesses and livelihoods.
According to the study, 72 per cent of farmers reported that the price they receive for Fairtrade coffee allows them to invest in their farms to prepare for climate change.
Farmers in the three cooperatives surveyed reported using the Fairtrade Price to invest in climate resilience on their farms, including environmentally friendly water and pest management, planting shade trees, and diversifying their income to improve their economic resilience.
Despite the challenges posed by climate change, the level of optimism farmers had for the future of coffee farming was generally high, with 80 per cent of farmers reporting that they feel prepared to face the effects of climate change.
Fairtrade believes that future research following the increase in the Fairtrade Minimum Price for coffee in 2023 will be useful to understand the extent to which the price increase further supports farmers with climate adaptation.
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