Smallholder farmers face poor harvests due to a mix of environmental and cultural factors. Poor harvests mean less food for their families and trap them in a vicious circle of poverty.
- Farmers don’t have up-to-date information about the best farming methods and they’re unable to access it because they are in such isolated areas.
- They have limited access to markets and supply chain knowledge, which means they can’t get the best price for their crops.
- Fertiliser and pest control products are expensive and damage the soil. Farmers are forced to move from place to place looking for fertile soil, removing forest habitats and leading to environmental damage
“I am excited to be part of such an important project in Peru, I am looking forward to helping other people in my community.”
Leonora, president of one of the first agroforestry cooperatives in Peru, El Progresso. We trained her during a previous project and now she passes on her knowledge to the coffee producers in her community.
The Ingenious Solution
We’ve put together a bundle of practical solutions that really do help people change their lives. Introducing new equipment and techniques, alongside running training and skill sharing on-location.
- The introduction of layering and other agroforestry techniques has diversified crops, shaded coffee plants and enriched the soil without using chemicals. It’s also reduced the carbon produced from coffee production.
- We’ve encouraged farmers to supplement their coffee income with other methods. Bee keeping is proving both popular and profitable and has the added advantage of helping pollinate crops.
- We’ve introduced varieties of coffee bean that are more resilient to pests and climate change.
- Simple equipment is now being used to separate the coffee beans into different qualities, remove the husks and dry them out (which increases efficiency and the quality of the finished product).
- We’re working with cooperatives to give farmers technical advice, share knowledge and give them collective bargaining power with coffee buyers.
- Our partnership with the Ministry of Education is helping to secured certification for eco-friendly agroforestry smallholders
- We’re involving women and young people in decision-making. This ensures that their knowledge and needs are recognised and the benefits of our work are spread equitably. It also helps stop young people leaving their home town to look for work.
- Our work with regional and national governments means that our approaches are being incorporated into policy and budget allocation.
- We’re sharing our knowledge and approach through free to access manuals and publications for communities, cooperatives, other NGOS and governments.
Through our projects we have worked with over 10,000 smallholder farmers directly and through cooperatives. The agroforestry approach has increased the productivity and quality of coffee crops – increasing its value and marketability.
- The evidence generated by our agroforestry work with coffee has now been adopted into other value chains, such as cocoa and bananas, and used by other organisations in the region, including the World Wildlife Fund.
- We’ve developed and shared a methodology for calculating the carbon dioxide reduction achieved through agro-forestry – which encourages government and private sector investment.
- Awareness of the environmental and social benefits of the approach has been scaled up from a community level to district municipalities to regional government and also influenced national agricultural and forestry policies.
- Our agroforestry model is now identified in the National Climate Change Initiatives as a sustainable, effective approach to reduce carbon emission and make coffee production environmentally sustainable (as well as profitable for smallholders), and the Ministry of Environment sites our approach as a sustainable model.
- The work has also resulted in the formalization of land tenure for smallholder farmers giving them more secure livelihoods.