SCA launches new farm profitability report

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has launched a new report into farming profitability at its sustainability conference, Avance, which was held in Guatemala City on 11-12 October. The report reveals that increased yields on coffee farms tend to decrease their profitability in the short term, debunking the popular belief that high yields are a precursor to the economic sustainability of a farm. Authored by Dr Christophe Montagnon of RD2 Vision, the new farm profitability report was commissioned by the SCA based on the vision of its volunteer leaders who selected the profitability of coffee farming as an area of strategic focus in 2015. Key findings of the report include: Yields increase with higher costs per hectare showing that production yields are not necessarily correlated with farm profitability. Increasing yields typically increases the cost per hectare to produce coffee, especially in the short term, and hence may decrease a farm’s profitability. Lowering the input costs into the farming system can often be a better strategy for profitability than increasing yields in coffee production because low-input farming systems have low production costs. Low-cost, low-yield systems generate a comparatively small amount of income for farmers, who diversify their income with other sources of revenue, but they are more profitable than a high-input, high yield system. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are effective tools for increasing yields but do not automatically translate into more profit for the farming system.

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