Sustainable Coffee as a Family Business

toolkit hivosWomen form the majority of the world’s estimated 25 million coffee farmers, yet coffee is seen as a men’s crop. A sustainable supply of good quality and sufficient quantity of coffee for mainstream and specialty markets is often hampered by unequal distribution of information, labor, other resources and benefits within the coffee farming families. Women do much of the production activities, men tend to benefit more from training in sustainable coffee practices, inputs, income and other benefits derived from coffee sales.

This unequal distribution leads to many inefficiencies in the coffee chain, and hampers the development of the coffee sector in general, and production in particular.

In many producing countries, average age of coffee farmers is increasing. Youth are not motivated to stay in coffee, face lack of ownership of land, coffee trees, access to training and finance, and benefits derived

from coffee. As a result they leave the rural areas, looking for employment in towns. Continuation of coffee production by the “next generation” is therefore at stake, and poses a great risk for the coffee sector as a whole.

Coffee is, and likely will remain, an important cash and export crop. It is therefore important to address the challenges related to inclusiveness, encouraging youth to start working in the sector and providing social and economic empowerment for women. To do this, both men and women of different age groups need to be supported in grasping opportunities.

 The opportunity

This toolkit provides a range of approaches and tools that have been tried and tested. They can lead to considerable improvements in coffee quality and increase in coffee quantity, besides supporting more gender equality and youth involvement.

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