A competitive sector, creating equitable conditions for all

The coffee sector generates about US$100 billion in revenue each year – more than any other commodity except petroleum. It represents the second most popular drink after water, and according to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), coffee production, export and consumption are increasing every year.

This increased demand also offers opportunities for positive changes: about 25 million people worldwide rely on coffee production, making coffee a strong weapon to fight poverty. The key to realising this potential is to make the sector more sustainable and equitable as part of a wider food system transition.

A commitment to those who grow coffee for a living is needed if we are to ensure that the relationship we have with this bean and those who grow it is one that is reciprocal, just, healthy, and sustainable.

Kiki Purbosari Indonesia coffee programme coordinator

The challenges along our way

Before we can speak of a truly sustainable coffee sector, which builds the resilience of those who grow coffee for a living, several challenges must be overcome.

  • Coffee farmers fight low yields due to poor farm management, pests and diseases, poor use of key inputs and the effects of climate change. At the same time, production costs are increasing.

Across all regions where Rikolto intervenes - DR Congo, Latin America and Indonesia - coffee provides an average annual income of USD 1,124/ha to a farmer. This means that any crisis within the coffee industry might endanger the lives of millions of people.

Léopold Mumbere International coffee programme coordinator
  • Women’s plots often have even lower yields than their male counterparts’ plots, due to inequitable access to and control over inputs, technical assistance and finance.
  • Young people have limited opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills and to access land and finance.
  • Coffee farmer organisations are not always professionally organised and have limited access to services and finance.
  • The market environment is competitive, with a high degree of price volatility and limited opportunities for cross-sector communication and cooperation.
  • The coffee sector is disconnected: it is difficult to scale successful initiatives because there is still a lack of integration of the public and private sectors, as well as of competent institutions to lead and frame actions at the country level.

Where we work

Through its international coffee programmes, Rikolto aims for an economically profitable, socially responsible and environmentally sound coffee sector; one in which all coffee farmers - young and old, women and men - earn a living income and have access to nutritious and affordable food.

Our approach is centred around 3 domains of change.

1. Sustainable production

  • We adopt a sustainable food systems approach: we strengthen coffee farmers’ and their organisations’ production and post-harvest practices, with a specific focus on quality improvement, resilience to risks and climate smart agriculture. We combine this with promoting crop diversification and agroforestry systems on coffee farms, and creating markets for food crops such as rice/yam in local urban markets. We do this to ensure that those who produce the beans we love so much are earning a living income.

Sustainably grown coffee provides competitive business opportunities for coffee farmers and adds value for consumers.

Léopold Mumbere International coffee programme coordinator
  • We create opportunities for young women and men to empower them to revitalise the coffee sector through innovation. These opportunities range from production to processing, marketing and quality checking to creating their own start-ups.
  • We put in place the conditions for the full participation of women in the coffee sector, at the production and post-harvest level, in the management of cooperatives and when it comes to their access to inputs, resources, and services.

2. Inclusive markets

  • We contribute to the professionalisation of farmer organisations, so they become trustworthy, competitive and profitable business partners, in line with the Professional Farmer Organisation Guidelines of AMEA, of whom Rikolto is a founding member.
  • We broker inclusive commercial partnerships between coffee farmers’ cooperatives and coffee buyers as well as lenders.

3. Enabling environment

  • We convene, strengthen and facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms in the coffee sector, aimed at improving sector policies, knowledge management, coordination and joint action at the national, regional or international level, on the topics of quality coffee, equality in the coffee sector, climate action and inclusive business.
  • We generate evidence in our projects that can be shared in those multi-stakeholder platforms, to scale up successful initiatives.

Constructive dialogues are incredibly important for every actor in the coffee supply chain. They help build transparency and understanding, and to share knowledge.

Mariela Wismann Latin America Coffee programme coordinator
  • We promote local coffee consumption in producing and emerging markets, to diversify commercialisation spaces for coffee farmers and facilitate access to quality local products for local consumers.
  • Rikolto runs coffee programmes in Latin America, South-East Asia and Africa, in which we address challenges such as quality, sustainability and youth inclusion.
  • Annually, we reach over 19,000 coffee farmers of 16 coffee cooperatives, of which 5,111 are women and 3,872 are younger than 35. Through partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders in the coffee sector, we reach thousands more.
  • Facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues and platforms at the national, regional and international level is our cup of “coffee”.

Refresh this webpage to browse through the timeline below.

2019 – Bridging the gap for women in Honduras’ coffee sector

To tackle the ever growing challenges of the coffee sector and increase the economic empowerment of women in this sector, Rikolto signed an agreement with the National Coffee Board (CONACAFE) and the organisation Solidaridad Network to update the national coffee policy with a gender focus. This agreement will strengthen CONACAFE to guarantee the implementation of this policy aimed at technological innovation, competitiveness, the socioeconomic transformation of coffee growing, and the institutionalisation of the gender focus in the sector.

2018 – The environmental footprint of Peruvian organic coffee

Rikolto, coffee cooperative Prosperidad de Chirinos and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú launched a study to measure the environmental footprint and carbon capture of organic coffee in Peru. The results were presented to the Multisectoral Committee for Environmental Sustainability of Agro-Export Products (part of Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Based on this study, the Committee has meanwhile developed the first “calculator for the environmental footprint of coffee”. It’s a simple digital tool, with a much lower cost than the initial study, that all of Peru’s producer organisations can access!

2017 – NICAFES, uniting Nicaragua’s coffee sector around a cup of coffee

Rikolto, UTZ/Rainforest and the Alianza Nacional de Caficultores de Nicaragua launched NICAFES, an innovative platform for coffee sustainability. Meanwhile, 33 key organisations, ranging from farmer associations to service providers and research institutes, have defined a joint vision on how to make Nicaragua’s coffee sector more competitive and resilient. Next up: proposing changes to national policies and defining concrete actions each actor can take. The joint vision, strategies and concrete actions will benefit over 56,250 Nicaraguan people active in the coffee sector.

2016 – Speciality Coffee from Ituri in Congo: Revival through Ownership

After many years of getting no income from a destroyed coffee sector, four farmer organisations, with the support of Rikolto, took their destiny into own hands again, co-investing in micro-washing stations. The improvement in living conditions of the farmers from 2014 to 2016 is very promising. The average income from coffee of the 2,300 members of Kawa Maber increased from 350USD to 685USD a year.

2015 – Specialty coffee flavours from Indonesia

PPKT cooperative from Toraja in Sulawesi/Indonesia started producing and selling green beans, after receiving support from Rikolto in the form of processing machinery and technical assistance. Taking part in the SCAI international coffee auction, two Toraja coffees were prize-winners and many exporters and café owners have made business contacts directly with PPKT. This boosted PPKT’s profile as one of the best speciality coffee producers that produces coffee with the unique Toraja taste.

2014 – A new generation of Ecuadorian youngsters discover coffee

Rikolto and producer organisation AACRI joined forces to show local youngsters that high-quality coffee can provide thrilling opportunities and decent livelihoods. In 3 years’ time, income from coffee for the cooperative’s members went up from USD650 per year to USD1300. At the same time, youth participation in the coffee cooperative went up, from 0% at the start of the programme to 8% at the end of the programme. Additionally, local youngsters started working as coffee cuppers and quality controllers, and 3 moved on to open their own coffee bars to promote their coffee locally.

We are a proud co-founder and active facilitator of national and regional multi-stakeholder platforms in producing countries, such as the Nicaraguan Coffee Platform NICAFES and the Honduran Sustainable Coffee Platform.

Rikolto also actively contributes to multi-stakeholder platforms, such as the Global Coffee Platform, the Sustainable Coffee Platform of Indonesia (SCOPI), the Specialty Coffee Associations Indonesia (SCAI) and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA).

Our partners include

  • Over 19,000 coffee farmers, members of 16 coffee farmers’ organisations;
  • Coffee-processing companies and wholesalers, including ECOM, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Olam, Lavazza, Saveur du Kivu;
  • Research institutes, including World Coffee Research, PROMECAFÉ;
  • Government agencies, such as the Honduran Institute of Coffee and the National Coffee Council, the Ecuadorian Association of Coffee Export, PROMPERU, Sierra y Selva Exportadora;
  • Other sector actors, like Rainforest Alliance, Solidaridad Network, Fairtrade Latin America (CLAC), Cospe Cooperazione Per Lo Sviluppodei Paesi Emergenti, Africa Fine Coffee Association, Specialty Coffee Association, UNDP - Pro Amazonia in Ecuador…

We are proud to count on the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation, IFAD, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Toraja Rural Development Services (TRDS), ECOM Trading, and many others.

Sustainable Coffee for all

Leopold Mumbere
Leopold Mumbere
Programme coordinator coffee in DR Congo
Mariela Wismann
Mariela Wismann
Directora del Programa Sistemas Alimentarios Sostenibles para las Ciudades | Latinoamérica
Kiki Purbosari
Kiki Purbosari
Coffee and PES Programme Manager
+62 811-3866-293