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230. Closing (and opening) the books on CAFE

Our CAFE Livelihoods project closed on 30 September 2011 after three years of work with more than 7,000 smallholder farmers in Mexico and Central America.   Since then, we have been collecting and analyzing the final data from the project, and recently submitted the CAFE Livelihoods Final Report to the donor.

We also asked researchers at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to have a look at a slew of project documents and provide an independent assessment of our performance, both internally (against the performance targets we set for ourselves) and externally (in relation to other, similar projects).  Here is the CIAT desk review.

As we close the books on the CAFE Livelihoods project, we want to open them here in a spirit of transparency and in the hope of fostering some learning among smallholder farmers, their business partners and the non-profits who serve them.  I feel there are some lessons to be learned from what we did well, and from what we did not do perhaps as well as we might have.

I think the timing is perfect for this kind of exercise in transparency.

We are approaching the New Year, a natural time for reflection on where we have been and planning for where we want to go in the future.  As CAFE closes, we are expanding our coffee work at origin in the Caribbean, Central America, East Africa and South America.  We want to apply the lessons we have learned under CAFE to our future coffee programming to continously improve the impact of our programming.

We also want to continuously improve our ability to contribute to the evolving vision of sustainability in the coffee industry on the basis of the data we gather in the field.  We publish these documents in the context of a rich discussion here on approaches to assessing impact at origin.


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