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An Expansion of the Coffeelands Blog

After more than a decade since the inception of the Coffeelands Blog, in 2009, it’s time to take things in a new direction. The formal Coffeelands program has officially come to an end, providing us with natural point for reflection and an inflection point for the blog.

As we move forward in our work, what have we learned from our experiences with coffee that can lead us forward in our mission to improve the lives of the small-holder farmers globally? How can we better move people up along the Pathway to Prosperity?

The CRS Pathway to Prosperity

We are now entering a new phase, embracing a wider approach, expanding to include wider work in the value chains and market systems world!

What lessons can we draw from coffee and apply to other value chains and crops? Coffee was the means, but the goal has always been to impact farmer’s lives. The Coffeelands blog will be seeking to apply these lessons learned towards a wider range of commodities and markets. What have we learned? What are doing well? What aren’t we doing well, and why? We will explore these topics and seek to generate discussion on value chains and market systems, both within coffee and with other areas.

Following a comprehensive review of the Coffeelands Project, many topics bubbled to the surface. These are just a sampling of some of the issues and challenges we will be exploring:

  • What impact are we really having on the small-holder farmers we are targeting? Are we sustainably moving people up out of poverty? (has the Pathway to Prosperity been affective?)
  • How can we target our beneficiaries? Where does value-chain work have the biggest impact – with those specialty farmers engaged with niche high-end markets, or those only accessing low-end commodity markets.
  • Is the ‘Hero Crop’ a myth? Has the approach to target a single commodity been sufficient? Should we be using a whole-farm approach?
  • How can small holders best equip themselves for climate change? Is agroforestry a truly scalable approach?
  • How can NGOs and the Private Sector most efficiently work together to address rural poverty?
  • What are the best ways to organize farmers and achieve economies of scale? What models outside of cooperatives may be more realistic and sustainable?
  • Access to finance – as the focus shifts to a blended finance approach, is this more effective?
  • How can we break out of the ‘project paradigm’ time constraints and take a wider ‘platform’ approach?

CRS brings a wide range of in-house expertise to the discussion and the blog will seek to tap into these resources as well as those from around the development world. The goal is for an exploratory discussion that can improve our work as an industry.

The first blog entries in our new approach to the Coffeelands Blog will soon be posted…stay tuned! And don’t worry, Coffee will still play an important role!

Dan Barthmaier, Senior Technical Advisor, Markets and Value Chains

Coffee, bananas, and vanilla in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda
Vanilla vines, green gold. Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

2 Comments

  • K says:

    Looking forward to an expanded conversation. Have been following CRS work in coffee since the heady Borderlands days! I really hope vanilla will be included in the evolving discussion.

  • Shaun Ferris says:

    Great to see some new ideas coming into the Coffeelands discussion. Given the current focus on diversification, its important that we work on and share information on how a range of crops, livestock and agroforestry options can enable smallholders around to world to build more resilient communities using modern sustainable farming systems. Looking forward to learning more about new thinking!

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