Coffee Farmer Income Resilience Program

The Coffee Farmer Income Resilience Program (CFIRP) is being implemented in Kenya and Uganda, with the aim of improving coffee farmer income resilience through integration of regenerative agriculture and blended services to diversified farming systems.

Like many farmers across the global coffee sector, many East African coffee farmers and their families live well below recognized living income benchmarks. The long-term nominal price of coffee in the futures market has remained roughly the same for the last 47 years, resulting in a significant decrease in farmers’ purchasing power. Arabica coffee systems in both countries are located in areas with high agricultural potential (cool mountain areas with higher precipitation and inherently fertile volcanic soils) which has also have high population densities and continuously decreasing farm and plot sizes. Fragmentation of farm plots often located several kilometers apart further complicate adequate management.

Competing demands for resources among households lead to variability in soil fertility. Biomass from crops and trees is used as fuelwood, animal feed, or construction material therefore leaving limited organic residues and manure to be returned to the soil. This leads to decreasing soil organic matter and nutrient cycling. Hence, crop yields are low and provide limited biomass for all other demands leading to a negative feedback loop.

While Uganda generally has a very low fertilizer use, Kenya has a relatively liberalized fertilizer market, even though fertilizer application rates tend to be below recommended rates.

Manure application has a low adoption rate among smallholders due to low accessibility, affordability and labor costs related to application. Although the soils in Arabica areas are inherently fertile, erosion and landslides on steep slopes and nutrient mining have led to severe soil degradation.

In both countries, significant proportions of farmers report on farm diversification with a different crops and livestock enterprises. While more than 50% of farmers report financing and inputs as the most frequent service provided, that service delivery is limited outside of coffee. Farmers need support and services for the full farming system to improve production, farm management and to optimize income opportunities.

Through the CFIRP, we want to commercially integrate coffee cultivation with other farming activities, leading to higher and more resilient farm income. Farmers receive training and support for progressively adopting regenerative practices, leading to improved soil health and plant function. Farmers receive services such as training, inputs, finance and information services for the entire farming system: coffee and non-coffee farm produce. We want to tackle business-level power asymmetry between farmers on one hand and coffee trading companies and off takers of non-coffee farm produce on the other hand through improved farmer choice, improved representation, and mitigation of risk exposure related to overdependency on coffee income and services.

In collaboration with private sector companies, IDH has co-developed sustainable and economically viable service delivery systems that integrate a stepwise approach to achieving income resilience for farmers while transitioning farm systems to regenerative agriculture. These service delivery systems support both coffee and non-coffee farm produce.