Our Approach Or: How We Work

“Help for self-help”: Our approach to development is business-oriented. We believe in entrepreneurship, ask for commitment of the farmers we work with, and want to enable them to improve their livelihood.

Sustainability is more than reputation management and philanthropy. Following the definition agreed by the World Commission on Environment and Development, “sustainable development is a development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."


Challenges of today’s coffee industry are numerous:


Rising Consumption

anticipated shortfall of 20 – 30 million bags by 2020

Limited New Production Area

no second Vietnam; need for environmental protection

Low Smallholder Productivity

80% of farmers are smallholders; Yields 20 – 50% of their potential

Farmers Poor Livelihoods are inadequate

farmers may switch to other crops or migrate to cities

Natural Resource Degradation

the necessary resources for coffee production are exhausted

Aging Farmers & Aging Trees

young people lack incentive to become a farmer; trees old & unproductive

Climate Change & Farmers, Production Systems highly vulnerable

production & livelihoods at risk

Support Systems limited, Programs not delivering Impact

farmers unable to improve conditions, escape poverty, increase production, meet demand

Coffee consumption around the world is rising. In the mid-term, supply seems unable to sufficiently cope with this projection. The root causes are complex: areas that are suitable for coffee production are already limited, and will be further reduced through the effects of climate change. Smallholder coffee farmers account for about 2/3 of the global coffee producers, but perform generally below their production potential – and lack incentive to change this. Income is low: the farmers often sell their coffee to middle-men, often unprocessed, far below market value. The return is not worth the effort, which is why the young generation hardly sees any incentive in the coffee business. Simple and straightforward practices that would better the income are little known, and the quality of natural resources degrades. And even if the farmers are enthusiastic to invest into their plantation, they miss access to credit and other relevant services to do so.

Acting sustainably today is caring about tomorrow’s resources – and offering development perspectives to ourselves and our children. Find out about the principles guiding our activities since 2001.

The Farmer, our Partner

Coffee is one of the world’s most widely traded agricultural commodities and is produced by 60 nations, most of which are less developed countries. The majority of the estimated 25 million producers are smallholder farmers operating in a rather risky environment characterized amongst other issues by fairly volatile markets and ever more unpredictable climatic conditions for growing their products.

The average productivity of the smallholder farmers is low. Project experience confirms, however, that in many cases these farmers can double their production by applying good agricultural practices. When additionally sound processing practices are applied, the farms are managed in a professional way and efficient farmer organizations are established, farmers can further strengthen productivity of their fields, boost product quality and improve their access to the market – factors which can lead to an income improvement of 100 – 200%. 

Through projects which effectively build up capacity of small scale farmers and organizational structures benefits are generated for all parties involved: better living conditions for the farmers and their families, vibrant development of their communities and access to sustainable coffee for the industry.



Learn more about ICP

Our history – an effort of creating a new approach towards sustainability
Our History
Our Approach Or: How We Work
Our Approach
Our vision: objectives and intentions
Our Vision
Our values - and our guiding principles
Our Values
Financials: Implementation of our activities
Frequently asked questions