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Press Release: International Coffee Partners Addresses Megatrends in the Upcoming Five Years

Date:25 March 2024

Hamburg, March 25, 2024. International Coffee Partners (ICP) just unveiled its new 5-year strategy comprising the years 2024 to 2028. It places ICP’s work in the context of global megatrends that affect rural livelihoods namely climate change and future prospects of young people. In order to make smallholder farmers and the coffee business successful, ICP will judiciously contribute to the necessary transformation processes and is open for partnerships with like-minded companies and public organizations.

During the last 5-year strategy phase, ICP achieved notable milestones: In 2021, it celebrated its 20th anniversary. During all this time International Coffee Partners worked as consistently as did the seven family-owned companies that are its shareholders. ICP does not look at coffee production in an isolated way but at the family and its farm as a whole. Consequently, ICP takes a holistic developmental approach including youth, gender issues, off-farm activities, and nature. Since its foundation in 2001, ICP has systematically extended its reach and deepened its participatory approach reaching more than 115,000 smallholder families in 13 countries.

The past years were marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing next to health concerns challenges in food security, transportation, and availability of workforce and inputs in the project regions. During the pandemic, additional pressure was put on the livelihoods of many coffee farmers who were already vulnerable to external shocks. However, meticulous evaluation proved that families participating in ICP projects were better able to react to and mitigate challenges posed by the pandemic.

Central America was hit by the tropical storms Eta and Iota. After Eta had brought flash flooding, forcing thousands of people out of their homes, Iota brought even more destruction and increased food insecurity and poverty adding hardships to the still prevailing pandemic. ICP therefore provided an emergency relief fund. Through all these crises, ICP provided strong support to the smallholder coffee farming families and their communities.

“However”, Michael Opitz, Managing Director of ICP, explains, “after five years, there is always a moment of reflection: How do we assess the global situation, what economic and political changes are there, and how are we responding? Is our program still in line with what the producers are saying and wanting; are they better off now?”

In its new 5-year strategy, ICP will continue working in the six focus countries Honduras, Brazil, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Indonesia. Here, ICP aims to reach 15,800 smallholder farming families to support them in improving their livelihoods, increasing the competitiveness of farmer organizations, applying farm diversification strategies, and implementing regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, among others. A special focus in all these activities is set on integrating youth and revealing perspectives for them: Thus, additionally, 5,000 youth shall benefit from ICP’s activities in the next five years.

“ICP’s work prioritizes farming as a family business, it is about organizational development, it is also about adapting to climate change, enhancing the opportunities of the younger generation and gender equality promotion as a cross-cutting issue. And the new program period specifically focuses on climate change and youth”, Michael Opitz summarizes.

Rui Miguel Nabeiro, CEO of Grupo Nabeiro/Delta Cafés and ICP chairman, complements: "I am happy to support the progress of our joint work. Youth and climate change are very relevant megatrends in sustainability. We aim to enable youth to explore agriculture and coffee as pillars of their livelihood."

Megatrend Climate Change

The war in Ukraine led to rising food and input prices that are adding to the economic burden of smallholder coffee farming households in many regions. Smallholder farming families face multiple obstacles in their daily lives and work ‒ poverty in coffee-growing regions is still worrisome. Agricultural productivity levels remain somewhat low in many places and both income and productivity are becoming increasingly jeopardized by climate change. Food insecurity is rising with global crises.

“We have to rethink production systems“, Michael Opitz concludes. In some cases, climate change is already threatening harvests, with food security suffering as a result. Climate change puts pressure on coffee production too: “Increasing temperature, prolonged droughts as well as erratic rainfalls, increasing plant diseases and pest infestations, are amongst the most pressing problems”, Michael Opitz lists the challenges. Therefore, with regard to climate change, ICP intends to further strengthen the initiative for coffee&climate (c&c) which was founded by the shareholders of ICP together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in 2010 and that validates, consolidates, and disseminates appropriate technologies and practices for effective adaptation and mitigation.

Megatrend Youth

“Sustainability in rural development and coffee production depends on young people too”, Rui Miguel Nabeiro emphasizes. “We are perceiving a lack of interest among young people to get involved in agriculture in many places in the coffee-producing regions“, he adds. “Farming is often perceived as an activity of last resort, and it may seem like a lot of work for little return. In effect, young people tend to migrate to urban areas.” Therefore, an important goal for ICP in the coming years is to expand its cooperations to maximize the impact of ICP’s work to support even more smallholder farming families and youth in coffee regions in achieving a better livelihood.

To accomplish this, ICP is keen to share knowledge and learnings. Private and public actors are invited to become better acquainted with ICP's experience and, where appropriate, to incorporate it into their work. Continuous learning and long-term commitment are further essential characteristics that make ICP an interesting partner for others. Currently, the organization cooperates with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Sida and the Austrian Development Agency ADA as public partners and The J.M. Smucker Company as a private partner in addition to various local organizations and institutions in the project countries. "ICP has a lot to offer when it comes to knowledge and experience on the ground. Cooperation with public and private actors helps us all to utilize synergies and address the challenges in the regions more efficiently", Rui Miguel Nabeiro concludes.

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