Updated on April 24, 2019
The UTZ program contributes to a Better Environment, Better Crop, Better Income, and ultimately, Better Life for all involved. But how does the UTZ program actually translate into a better income for farmers?
A better price for a better product
UTZ certified farmers increase their income by growing better crops.
For example, a farmer might have just two hectares of land. She increases the yield and the quality of her crops through training in good agricultural practices like pruning or using shade trees. At the same time she reduces her costs, for example by buying less fertilizer or pesticides and using them more effectively. She’s more efficient, producing more from her two hectares with lower costs, and increasing her income as a result.
Better farming practices, better living conditions for farmers, better education that spurs entrepreneurship and improved business practices at farm level — these are all factors that eventually lead to a better crop, environment and end product.
Better market access
On top of this, the UTZ program contributes to forming strong relationships between farmers and buyers, and farmers receive a variable premium on top of the market price for their crop.
Making a living from farming is tough, there’s no doubt about it. But the UTZ program is about making the farmer’s business more viable in the long run. The main benefits come from increased productivity and market access, with the premium on top.
Impact is felt at farm level
This approach is backed up by several academic studies that have investigated the impact of the UTZ program.
Improving income through better farming is all very well, but what about when times are tough? Farmers face many challenges, such as climate change, pests and diseases, and changing prices for everyday essentials like fertilizers.
In 2012, coffee farmers in Colombia faced all of these difficulties at once. There was a long period of very heavy rain at a crucial time when the coffee plants should have been flowering; there was a severe outbreak of ‘coffee rust’, a disease that kills the plants; and fertilizer prices peaked, which meant many growers couldn’t afford them.
This all led to a particularly bad year for the coffee harvest. Non-certified farmers saw their yield drop by more than 50% in a year. For UTZ certified farmers, the outcome was very different. The good agricultural practices in the UTZ program had made them more resilient, so their harvest was almost the same as usual, dropping just 1%.
Farmers tell their stories
Don’t just take our word for it. Farmers explain what the UTZ program means to them:
Another Ivorian cocoa farmer commented on the benefits he noticed since the UTZ program was implemented on his farm:
Since I started applying good agricultural practices (weeding and pruning), I produce better quality cocoa. I observe my plantation better and know what is good and what is bad, and this makes me more efficient.
This speaks to one of the larger goals of our organization: to help farmers improve their profits, not through premiums alone, but through the implementation of better farming and business practices. We hear from many farmers in the field who tell us they value stable trade relationships and training more than any premium received. At the end of the day, it’s this increased resilience at farm level that we aim for, resilience that equates to better incomes and lives for farmers.