GCP Member IDH sets up task force to tackle living income in coffee

Low commodity prices in coffee have had a dire effect on smallholder farmers – an issue that IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative – GCP Member and strategic partner – as well as other GCP Members and further companies seek to address with great urgency. IDH has therefore initiated a task force to tackle living income in coffee. Launched earlier this year, the Task Force for Coffee Living Income has established pro-active, fact-based and transformative dialogue between leading coffee value chain actors, working on establishing effective steps and conditions that contribute to a living income for coffee producers and translating these into key recommendations for the coffee sector to adopt.

Since its inception in 2008 IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, has been mobilizing public private cooperation and funding to scale sustainable practices in value chains such as cocoa, tea, and cotton. Most of this focused on improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers, using the creation of market led coalitions to scale demand for sustainable produce. This contributes in a positive way to GCP’s overall work with its broad network of members and country platforms but also the current GCP Call to Action to Collectively Address the Price Crisis.

Significant financial contributions and human resources have since been made by IDH to address bottlenecks like productivity, access to finance, and to help to mature public private dialogue to strengthen the enabling policy environment. All of which are, and continue to be, vital programs to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

However, the new Task Force believes that most of the current programs in coffee do not directly address the need for a Living Income for coffee producers as a prerequisite for a sustainable coffee sector. Meanwhile, more pressing than ever, the world is faced with very low green bean coffee prices and the disastrous effects of poverty especially in rural agriculture communities in developing countries.

The Task Force views the need to adapt the way international commodity markets currently function as critical. By moving away from aggravating the income position of small coffee producers to contributing to Living Income for coffee farmers, it will hopefully lead to economic rural development and the preservation of diversity in coffee origins and flavors.

The Task Force is working closely with related initiatives such as those initiated by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Global Coffee Platform (GCP), Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC), the Living Income Community of Practice and Fairtrade International among others. It is clear that for innovative approaches to realize their full potential at large scale, corresponding shifts in public policies in coffee producing and consuming countries, as well as company policies, need to be in place.

The first preliminary insights from the Task Force for Coffee Living Income are accessible here It focuses on Colombia as first country to prototype the research approach. A final public report of the Task Force will be made available before end 2019.