Coffee pledge

International Coffee Day is an opportunity for the coffee industry to unite, discuss trends and celebrate producers. The event takes place on 1 October every year.

With a dramatic decline in coffee prices, millions of smallholder farmers aren’t making enough to live on. In light of this, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) has launched a petition, #coffeepledge, in support of coffee farmers earning a living income.

The ICO brings together the governments of countries in which coffee is produced, processed or consumed. The petition aims to highlight the need for collective action to the different stakeholders. The ICO has an ambitious target of 1 million signatures by 1 October.

In an open letter, the ICO said, “We hope to use this weight of consumer opinion to support the ICO’s efforts to mobilise funds and political backing to address the coffee price crisis.”

Twin has seen many coffee farmers face extremely challenging times because of the coffee price crisis. One leader of a producer organisation in Ethiopia said, “Due to coffee price, smallholder farmers may totally shift from producing coffee to other crops.” Even when coffee is sold at a premium, it’s usually only a fraction of the total volume and the average doesn’t work in producers’ favour.

Because farmers suffer as a consequence of the fluctuating C market, we take a holistic approach to enable farmers to earn a secure income. We always create contracts with favourable conditions for producers. But we also run programmes across East Africa and Latin America that promote income diversification to ensure farmers have other options for income and therefore a more secure livelihood. Our work takes different approaches such as: using funding from Taylors of Harrogate to offer training on starting a micro-business to women coffee farmers in Rwanda combined with a revolving fund. Or, partnering with Pret to offer business grants to young producers at Centrocafé in Peru.

The issues that coffee farmers face are interlinked, so we feed income diversification into all our work. We welcome ICO’s petition – it’s time for the sector to work together. Action is needed at farm level, from roasters, from every actor in the supply chain and in advocacy and campaigning. We are very happy to collaborate with partners across the world to address this pressing issue.

You can sign the petition here.