It is increasingly clear that droughts, floods and storms caused by climate change are threatening the lives and livelihoods of people who depend on the land to survive. And while climate change affects agriculture, agriculture also affects climate change.
By setting standards for sustainable production, and supporting farmers to meet them in innovative ways, UTZ is in a strong position to help address climate-related challenges, and to reduce emissions caused by agriculture.
Farmers following the UTZ Code of Conduct work with respect for the environment and in better harmony with nature. Animals, plants and nature reserves are protected. Water, raw materials and natural resources are preserved, and pollution reduced.
Temperatures Are Rising
Coffee, tea and cocoa are all crops that need very specific conditions to thrive. Temperature, rainfall, altitude, access to water and soil type can have a major impact on the success or failure of a harvest.
By 2050 it is expected that the annual temperature globally will have risen to such an extent that many coffee, tea and cocoa production areas will be too hot to grow the crops.
Adaptation is aimed at lowering the risks posed by a changing climate. Training to help farmers implement good agricultural practices is the first step in UTZ’s adaption work. This includes:
- Planting trees such as avocado and banana to shade and protect crops. Farmers can also use the fruit to diversify their income.
- New irrigation methods to make sure plants get the water they need, even in drought.
- Covering soil with mulch or other materials to help retain moisture longer. Better care for soil can also help prevent erosion.
- Record keeping to monitor rainfall and climate change trends, so farmers can take measures to adapt.
Coffee, cocoa and tea producers contribute to climate change through deforestation, misuse of waste, excessive use of water during processing and imbalanced use of fertilizers. Mitigation helps farmers address the root causes of climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases they produce.
UTZ helps producers improve their agricultural practices through:
- Maintaining and increasing forest cover in and around production areas, which increases organic matter and fertility, and prevents deforestation.
- Improving wastewater cleaning after the coffee processing cycle – which helps ensure clean water for the community and cuts down on greenhouse gas.
- Correct use of fertilizer, which means less greenhouse gas.
A key aspect of the UTZ program is helping farmers improve their productivity; this is important in tackling climate change because:
- Increased land productivity can prevent expansion and deforestation.
- Higher productivity increases income, which allows for more investment in adaptation measures.
- If less land is needed to be more productive, it can reduce the carbon footprint of the crop.
The biggest change as a result of UTZ certification has been in terms of the environment. I am now more aware of the natural environment and better agricultural practices. We have a responsibility towards nature and the environment to utilize and manage it correctly. To be certified puts me ahead of other farmers.
Francois du Plessis, Rooibos Farmer, South Africa