A key element of sustainable coffee production is the application of good agricultural and sustainability practices by coffee farmers. During the past years, GCP has supported public-private Coffee Platforms in coffee producing countries to develop their ‘National Sustainability Curriculum’ (NSC) – a set of common training materials that provide harmonised knowledge on good practices and other key information for extension workers, coffee farmers and other coffee stakeholders. The NSC aims to help coffee farmers improve their farm management and meet the requirements of international markets through sustainable coffee production and climate change adaptation principles.
The NSC is developed by the respective GCP Country Platform, in consultation with all key local stakeholders. With over five years of experience in designing and disseminating locally-adapted NSCs in coffee producing countries, a key achievement is the endorsement of the NSC by national and local governments.
Below, we highlight the progress made by three platforms that form part of the GCP Network of Country Platforms in working with government and other local stakeholders towards a thriving and sustainable coffee sector.
In September 2022, the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development officially recognised the latest update of the NSC Robusta for sustainable coffee production including workplace safety and health. Last year the NSC for Arabica coffee was also officially recognised. The NSC Arabica refers to the GCP Baseline Coffee Code while the NSC Robusta was updated and enhanced using the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development currently requires the National Agricultural Extension Center to disseminate and use the NSC Robusta as the official training materials for good practices in Robusta coffee production. Additionally, the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association (VICOFA) is working with GCP to disseminate the NSC to their members, which includes large Vietnamese coffee companies among others. This will greatly extend the reach and uptake of the NSC both for Robusta and Arabica in Vietnam.
A key feature of the Vietnam NSC Robusta is a chapter on occupational health and safety in coffee production. Health and safety is a topic that is largely absent in agricultural training materials and many work-related accidents are not recorded. The inclusion of this chapter is one of the reasons why the NSC has received so much attention from the Vietnamese government. The NSC has the potential to pave the way for health and safety training and improvement – not only in the coffee sector but in other agricultural production as well.
Going forward, GCP Vietnam will be working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Department of Crop Production (DCP), and the National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC) to roll out the NSC Robusta and conduct trainings for master trainers in 2023. The master trainers will include both government extension officers, staff from private sector companies, and lead farmers. Working with government extension officers is crucial as they have a wider reach (especially at grassroot level) but usually don’t have the coffee-specific knowledge. Towards the end of 2023, GCP Vietnam and the above-mentioned partners will also hold a progress workshop where stakeholders will be convened and feedback on initial use of the Robusta NSC will be collected.
The Uganda Country Platform has worked to localise the NSC for the past two years. The platform developed a module on governance to be included alongside the existing NSC modules. This module was developed in response to the need for more training on the topic of governance in the Ugandan coffee sector, as identified by local stakeholders. Input to the NSC was provided not only by the private sector but also by government regional coffee extension officers which ensured that any technical information was adapted to suit the local context.
To maximise the impact of the NSC, Uganda has developed a series of visual aids (charts and posters) which trainers can use in combination with a facilitators’ guide in their trainings with coffee farmers. Together, these form a complete set of extension materials which can be used by both public and private sector extension officers.
The secretariat of the Uganda Country Platform presented the NSC extension materials to top management of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority in September 2022. These materials were officially approved by the Ugandan government and are set to be launched nationally this month.
The materials will be open-source and available on both the GCP and Ugandan government websites which will greatly extend the reach of the NSC.
Going forward, Café Africa as Secretariat of the Uganda Coffee Platform plans to conduct a Master Trainer workshop for coffee extension officers. There is also great interest from GCP Members to start using the extension materials in their current and future interventions once they are officially launched.
In Indonesia, NSC for Arabica and Robusta were rolled out in 2016 and 2017 and updated in 2019. The Indonesian Country Platform (SCOPI) granted the copyrights of the NSC to the Ministry of Agriculture (Extension and Agricultural HR Development Agency). This helps to ensure that good agricultural and sustainability practices are harmonised across the Indonesian coffee sector.
In 2019, a training management module was developed and added to the existing NSC in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture. This module is designed to teach trainers on how to conduct successful training with coffee farmers. In September 2022, SCOPI conducted a ‘Training of Trainers’ in Aceh Province with a total of 38 participants on-site on good agricultural practices for Arabica coffee from the NSC. This was followed by a hybrid Master Trainers National meeting with 133 participants. Participants included government extension officers, private sector and NGO staff as well as lead farmers from different coffee producing regions.
Given the geography of Indonesia, establishing a strong network of trainers who are able to work with farmers across the country is key. For private sector and NGO extension workers, the NSC provides a solid foundation for good agricultural practices knowledge which can be supplemented by organization-specific knowledge. Equally important, however, is working with public sector extension officers who are more likely to reach farmers in smaller and remote coffee producing regions. Through the network of master trainers, SCOPI is able to keep a record of basic data on coffee farmers (including location and productivity) and track the progress of farmers over time as they engage with the NSC practices.
The network of trainers has already highlighted additional challenges for coffee farmers that SCOPI aims to tackle in upcoming NSC modules. These include Agroforestry, the use of herbicides and rising fertiliser prices. By working with the Indonesian government to add additional modules to the NSC, SCOPI is able to close this feedback loop and provide relevant and harmonised practices to coffee farmers.
Building on the foundational tools such as the NSC, Coffee Sustainability Reference Code and GCP Collective Action Initiatives in several countries, the GCP Network of Country Platforms and GCP Members will shape plans to deliver on GCP 2.0 Goal of transformational change on farmer prosperity for more than one million coffee farmers by 2030.