The Global Situation: The Receding Pandemic was Followed by the Ukraine War
In many coffee-growing regions around the world, the year 2022 began with relief that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were slowly receding and that smallholder farming families were once again beginning to see positive economic development. Rising coffee prices fueled hope among many families that they would be able to make a farm profit after years of hardship.
Then Russia attacked Ukraine, with terrible humanitarian consequences for the country. Indirect effects also impacted the rest of Europe and even tropical regions: Ukraine is not only the breadbasket of Europe, Russia and Ukraine also export food commodities as well as mineral fertilizers to many parts of the world including coffee-growing countries - these supply chains were now disrupted.
Combined with the ongoing effects of climate change, particularly droughts in many coffee-growing areas, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, smallholder families found themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation, characterized by high farm input prices, food insecurity, and increased migratory pressures.
In 2022, as a reaction to these impacts on smallholder livelihoods, ICP focused on promoting food security and on reducing the need for external inputs. With our implementing partner Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), farmer families were trained on how to integrate food crops into their production systems and supported in the use of organic fertilizers and biological pest and disease control methods.
The difficult year of 2022 proved once again the success of the holistic approach of the ICP projects. An approach that not only addresses the general challenges of coffee farming families but prepares them to cope with a variety of extraordinary situations - precisely because of its holistic nature: Climate, youth, gender, farmer organizations, and family businesses are not treated as separate components but achieve impact in their combination.
ICP's activities from 2001 to 2022
projects have been implemented since ICP's foundation in 2001.
countries have been hosting ICP activities since 2001.
households have been reached throughout all regions since ICP's founding in 2001.
Euros have been invested by the ICP shareholders since 2001.
Organic Fertilizers and Integrated Pest and Disease Management Made Farmers More Independent from External Inputs
Due to the impacts of the war, smallholder farmers all over the world were struggling to acquire essential farm inputs.
The production of organic fertilizers and Integrated Pest and Disease Management are part of ICP's projects throughout all regions. It includes training in the safe use and handling of agrochemicals, which also suggests alternatives to pesticides in pest control. All these contents were focused on in 2022 to make farmers more independent from external inputs.
Indonesia, for example, produces biochar using rice and coffee husk. There is a strong consensus that the introduction of biochar into soil can increase fertility, it retains and slowly releases absorbed nutrients into the soil. Furthermore, the production of organic foliar sprays and eco enzymes has been promoted to improve plant health and production. Ground cover crops and mechanical weeding were successful on demonstration sites and can provide a good alternative to herbicides.
In Brazil, organic fertilizer systems included the use of bokashi and compost. Bokashi is produced by fermenting a mixture of organic matter, such as coffee husk, with the addition of effective microorganisms. The fermented bokashi is then applied as a nutrient-rich fertilizer to enhance soil fertility and promote healthy growth in coffee plants.
In Tanzania, farmers have been trained on the use of animal oil fats to control infestations of the coffee steam borer and bottle traps for the coffee berry borer. Newly introduced were neem tree extracts, tephrosia, and ginger as biopesticides because they are locally available, cost-effective, and reduce the chemical exposure risks for smallholder farming families and the environment.
smallholder farming families (382 women and 271 men) in Tanzania received training in production of organic composting.
of trained smallholder farming families in Tanzania adopted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in their farming practices, while 92 % incorporated plant nutrition into their farming practices, and compost was used by 45% of
smallholder farming families in Central America received training on the safe use and handling of agrochemicals.
of organic fertilizer were produced by program smallholder farming families in Indonesia.
Food Crop Cultivation Enhanced the Farming Families' Food Security
Promotion of diversified production systems is a general aspect of ICP's projects for farming families to become more independent from external markets and to improve their food security. In view of the disrupted global supply chains, it gained even more importance in 2022.
In Tanzania, irrigation training combined climate adaptation with food security, for example, the use of micro-irrigation pumps in vegetable and coffee production. It enabled smallholder farming families to establish vegetable gardens, growing tomatoes, green peppers, and spinach, serving as a direct food and additional income source.
In Central America, farming families received training on intercropping coffee with other cash and food crops. This can be basic grains such as corn, beans, and cassava as well as fruits such as avocado, lime, and forest trees. This allows for a more efficient use of the farm space, generates higher income, and contributes to improved nutrition and food security. Families most vulnerable to food insecurity received bean and corn seedlings and were supported in the establishment of their own vegetable gardens.
Also, Indonesian farming families have been applying more and more productive shade trees to improve the soil and generate income. Traditional fruit trees such as Durian and Duku are used as well as Jengkol (dogfruit), avocado, pepper and Java chili, ginger, turmeric, and red chilis. The local project started establishing fruit tree nurseries to encourage farming families to start diversifying their production systems. Furthermore, in December 2022, the first mushroom production on coffee waste was successfully trialed: Oyster mushrooms are grown on coffee husk, serving as a source of food and income.
women in Ethiopia engaged in backyard vegetables, coffee seed preparation, management of coffee seedlings, and growing cash crops like pepper to supplement their household income.
smallholder farming families in Central America benefited from the delivery of bean seeds for the establishment of short-cycle crops to promote food security, efficient land use, and inter-row soil cover with coffee trees.
demonstration plots were established in Central America to promote the intercropping of coffee with food crops such as plantain, avocado, maize, and corn. 440 demonstration plots were further supported, showcasing best practices on intercropping coffee with avocado, banana, or limes.
smallholder farming families in Tanzania were able to diversify their income by engaging themselves in growing crops into the horticultural business, livestock keeping, and poultry.
And As Climate Change Is Progressing...
The effects of climate change continued to threaten rural livelihoods - with increasing severity.
In Ethiopia, heavy rain mixed with wind and hailstorms destroyed coffee and crop production. As a result, production has declined, leading to a drop in income for smallholder farming families.
Uganda was hit by a drought spell from May to July 2022. Beyond that, there were floods and landslides, affecting rural livelihoods. The households were confronted with extra cost of inputs such as pesticides to control pests and diseases arising from these climate change impacts.
Also Tanzania experienced droughts, so households, mostly women, were subjected to walking longer distances to fetch water. In some cases, these households were incurring extra costs to hire motorcycles and animal pushcarts to fetch water. On the other hand, there were erratic rainfalls, creating unfavorable conditions that set the ground for pest infestations and diseases. Both created higher production costs and reduced the quality of coffee beans and therefore the gross margins from coffee sales.
In Brazil, as well, the past year was once more characterized by prolonged droughts and heavy rains. Strong winds and even hailstorms affected many coffee-producing areas in the country.
In Central America, Tropical Storm Julia in October 2022 caused flooding, landslides, and damage to roads and bridges in the program regions, limiting team mobility and causing crop losses.
...So Do Our Trainings on Climate-Smart Practices
ICP’s work with regard to climate change is covered through the approach of the initiative for coffee&climate (c&c) which was founded in 2010 by the shareholders of ICP. c&c develops climate change coping strategies to support smallholders to adapt to climate change and to increase the climate resilience of entire coffee landscapes.
In Ethiopia, for example, the climate component continued to focus on enabling women to start their own business ideas based on climate adaptation and mitigation, such as the management of nurseries for coffee trees and shade trees.
In Uganda, the program promoted the construction of improved cooking stoves. Youth were trained as community resource persons to offer commercialized services in the construction and maintenance of the cookstoves in their communities.
Tanzania set a strong focus on soil management. Various mulching methods were introduced in the training, including dry mulch and live mulch to suppress weed growth, regulate soil temperature, control erosion, and retain soil moisture.
smallholder farming families in total received training on climate-smart agricultural practices, based on the c&c approach in 2022 (throughout all project regions).
Gender Change Agents in Ethiopia received training on climate-smart household practices. Indigenous knowledge about e.g. organic fertilizer production has been integrated into the training.
improved cookstoves were constructed in coffee farming households in Uganda.
youth couples in Uganda were identified and selected to host farm-level demonstrations of climate-smart technologies. They were trained in the set up and management of the c&c demonstration plots.
coffee nurseries with improved climate-resilient coffee
varieties were established in Central America (more than 1mln plants total to renovate ~286 ha of coffee area).
Outlook: Collaboration Continues to be Key
In 2022, ICP projects with their focus on the livelihood situation of smallholder farming families helped to mitigate the situation of crisis in many places and will continue to do so. Coffee supports here as an element of diversified production systems that include cash and food crops and generate stable cash flows throughout the year.
At the same time, the development and strengthening of farmer organizations is essential. Farming families produce cash and food crops while their organizations improve their access to services and markets, connect them with relevant networks, and even perform certain social functions in the interest of their members. This kind of cooperation makes farming families stronger.
Also, ICP continues to not only focus on their work in the field but also on collaboration: Building partnerships helps maximize the impact of ICP’s work, reach even more farming communities, and support them in achieving a better livelihood.