For three years, UTZ has been running the Coffee Climate Care (C3) project in Vietnam, aimed at empowering coffee farmers to adapt to climate change – while also mitigating the coffee Coffee_Climate_Care_logosector’s contribution to the problem. Now the project has come to an end, we go back to Henriette Walz, our Climate Change expert to ask about the outcomes and steps forward.

“The experience of this project fed into the revision of the UTZ Code of Conduct that now includes two climate change specific requirements. The training materials and lessons learnt are therefore included in the work around the standard that reaches 187.000 coffee farmers in 23 countries (in 2015)”, says Henriette Walz.

  • 139 trainers are ready to train farmers on how to deal with the challenges that climate change poses to them.

  • 1245 producers underwent several rounds of farmer field schools on the topic

  • 16 auditors were trained in climate change aspects relevant to their work

Targeted training

Farmer Field School on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation, Vietnam

Farmer Field School on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation, Vietnam

Training was at the heart of the project. It was designed to be engaging and popular with farmers thanks to the small size of the groups and the participatory training methodology. It also included a training plan that is geared to the different seasons and seasonal requirements of the crop calendar.

“We knew a little bit about climate change before the project, but with C3 we now know the fundamentals of what causes climate change. It is very clear to us which adaptation practices we should implement,” says Tran van Tho, one of the promoter farmers from the Vietnamese province of Lam Dong.

Increased knowledge, motivation and adoption of good agricultural practices

The shade trees, such as avocados like the one in this picture, are planted among the coffee. They quickly grow taller than the coffee plants, and offer protection from heat stress. This improves the quality of the coffee.

The shade trees, such as avocados like the one in this picture, are planted among the coffee. They quickly grow taller than the coffee plants, and offer protection from heat stress. This improves the quality of the coffee.

The C3 project was aimed at both increasing the ability of producers to cope with the negative effects of climate change, while at the same time reducing their footprint. “The results we saw, through our internal data collection as well as an external evaluation of an independent third party, indicate that there was progress on both these goals,” Henriette adds. In the evaluation, the knowledge, motivation and adoption of certain farming practices of the pilot groups were compared to that of a control group. The outcome? The pilot group farmers had better knowledge about climate change.

They were also highly motivated and eager to apply the improved practices as recommended in the trainings, in order to minimize the risk of crop loss in the future and mitigate the impact of coffee production on the environment. The number of farmers diversifying their crop production with pepper, avocado, durian, acacia, black cassia, and optimizing fertilization and irrigation was much higher than in the control group. Furthermore, our internal monitoring showed that the emissions from, in particular, fertilizer application were reduced significantly.

Outcomes and benefits Coffee Climate Care project Vietnam

Reflections from the field

To look back at the project, activities and outcomes, and discuss learnings for the future with the project partners, the team organized two workshops, one in Vietnam and one in The Netherlands.

On the 31st of March about 70 participants from the C3 team and about 20 farmers from both pilot groups, the C3 project advisory committee and partners from NGOs, public and private partners gathered in the cool hills of the Lam Dong province in Vietnam.

The importance of the topic of climate change in the Vietnamese context and how strong the link is between irregular rainfall, agricultural productivity and income for the farmers was clear. “It is of crucial importance to develop models of good farming practices and material to support their implementation,” says Doan Toan from the Agriculture department of the Krong Pak district in the Vietnamese province of Dak Lak.

Coffee farmer Pham Van Hoan sharing his experience during the closing workshop in Vietnam.

Coffee farmer Pham Van Hoan sharing his experience during the closing workshop in Vietnam.

In the Netherlands, the focus was on how to scale up climate change adaptation and mitigation in smallholder coffee, but also cocoa and tea production by working in partnerships.

Britta Wyss Bisang, UTZ Program Director: “Today it should not be the end [of the project], it should be the new beginning on how to scale up the activities taken place for farmers in the coffee sector to adapt and mitigate on the effects of climate change not only in Vietnam but beyond.”

Britta Wyss Bisang_Coffee Climate Care_Round table _The Netherlands

Britta Wyss Bisang from UTZ at the Coffee Climate Care stakeholder round table in The Netherlands.

Participants shared their experience on different strategies to scale up the project and discuss barriers and opportunities. Furthermore, specific topics were discussed, including how to measure climate change adaptation (KPIs), how to attract funding from investors for climate adaptation projects, and how to strengthen farmer voices in national platforms.

Applying the lessons learned

Coffee farmers in Vietnam

Coffee farmers in Vietnam

The experience of the project has already fed into UTZ’s standard, thereby extending the benefits to 187,000 coffee farmers. Different aspects around climate change adaptation have been included in the Code of Conduct, and guidance and training materials have been based on the experience in Vietnam. “We would like to continue supporting the implementation of the standard with in-depth field interventions such as the C3 project. For this we are in discussions with several partners on transferring the methodology and starting similar projects in other countries and crops.” Henriette concludes.

Are you interested in further discussions or the roll out of our C3 project? Get in touch at marketing@utz.org.

Coffee Climate Care was sponsored by the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) with public funds of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).