08 September 2021
How Löfbergs are Supporting Young Farmers
Climate change is adversely impacting coffee farming and the 125 million people who earn their livelihood from the industry. To secure high quality coffee for tomorrow, Löfbergs are working hard to encourage more young people into farming by sharing skills and knowledge on how to be successful farmers able to adapt to climate change.
The coffee plant is sensitive to climate change and, according to research by The Climate Institute, half of the land where coffee is grown runs the risk of becoming unusable by 2050. At the same time, the average age among coffee farmers is increasing; in many places it now sits at 60. The daily challenge and hard work needed to farm coffee means many young people are leaving family plots and heading to the bright lights of the city for their future.
Recognising the challenge facing coffee, Löfbergs was one of the founding members of International Coffee Partners (ICP), a not-for-profit organisation with a vision to improve the living conditions for small-scale farmers.
ICP supports local projects that offer coffee farmers education and practical training that focuses on increasing productivity, improving quality and strengthening the farmers’ knowledge of equality and marketing. This contributes towards higher profits for the farmers in both the short- and long-term. The participants often double or even triple their income, which has a huge benefit on their standard of living and the development of the local community.
Since it was founded in 2001, ICP has launched 23 projects in 13 countries and has supported more than 92,000 participants. Of the €1 million annual budget, Löfbergs contributes around 15 percent.
In north-western Colombia, Emilio is one such farmer who has benefitted from ICP’s initiatives. Despite being tempted by the city of Medellin, Emilio decided to stay in the mountain village of Heliconia and take up the reins of the family farm. Now, having learnt about sustainable cultivation and new types of coffee trees that are better suited to cope with the challenges of climate change, Emilio has a successful farm and is part of the Fairtrade co-operative, Antioquia.
Through the co-operative, not only does Emilio get the best price for his coffee, but he also receives other valuable help including financial support, insurance and healthcare. All of this contributes to a real sense of security for Emilio who can see a viable and successful future in farming coffee.
“My unique coffee has taken me forward. I have been able to study and have been able to help my family.”
Meeting Climate Change
The biggest impact on the climate from coffee arises from farming, but this can be reduced. For example, farms can absorb more CO2 than they produce and under the right conditions, they can become carbon sinks.
Löfbergs encourages farmers to take part in climate initiatives such as the Coffee & Climate programme which is run with members of the ICP and others. The project combines research with practical experience and has resulted in a toolbox which can be used by farmers the world over. So far, Löfbergs has reached more than 85,000 farmers to positively impact results in both the quality and productivity.
Certifications Making a Difference
Löfbergs has worked with different certification bodies to increase the supply of and demand for certified coffee since 1996. The certifications have different focuses, but in the right hands, they all contribute to more sustainable coffee farming while at the same time improving the development opportunities for the farmers.
Löfbergs is one of the world’s largest buyers of organic and Fairtrade certified coffee. Last year, this combined purchase was from an area the equivalent of 16,300 football pitches, which meant a reduction of 184 tonnes in pesticide usage and that co-operatives and small-scale coffee farmers received an additional premium of more than €4.8 million.
Löfbergs spends 150 days a year visiting the farms that grow its coffee and have witnessed the positive impact first-hand. From increased knowledge about sustainable farming methods and the importance of biodiversity, to an improved position for women farmers and the conditions for children’s education, these improvements have been fundamental step-changes in making coffee an attractive, viable option for the next generation of farmers.
At the London Coffee Festival, Löfbergs will be offering an immersive insight into their support of young farmers with a VR experience on their stand.