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Study Shows Farmers Working with Rainforest Alliance and Nespresso Earn 87% More

Fernando, a Colombian coffee farmer who takes part in the AAA Program | Image credit: Nespresso

A recent independent study by the Colombian organization CRECE, which assessed the social, environmental and economic impacts among 1,000 farmers has found that farmers in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program have a net income 87.4 percent higher than those not involved with the program.

The AAA program, which was co-developed over the last ten years by the Rainforest Alliance and Nespresso, encourages farmers to adopt best practices such as protecting water sources and preventing soil erosion from their land.

The program rewards farmers for higher-quality coffee by paying them more and motivates suppliers to make positive changes over the long term, and to act as entrepreneurs. This has led to farmers be able to invest their earnings in their farms, living conditions and communities.

According to the study, Nespresso farmers are more than seven times as likely to employ waste-water management as non-participant farmers and recycle 50 percent more. They also were more likely to employ soil-conservation methods on their farms. Coffee leaf rust was better controlled among AAA farmers, with control farmers demonstrating an average infestation rate of 20 percentage points higher.

The Rainforest Alliance and Nespresso say they have worked together for a decade to help farmers produce sustainable, high quality coffee that enables them to improve their livelihoods and steward the natural resources on which they depend. Today, more than 56,000 farmers are part of the AAA Program and have benefited from improved yields and higher quality coffee, while also implementing comprehensive conservation practices on their farms.

“As we mark ten years of the AAA Program, I am proud to have the opportunity to work with these renowned leaders in environmental and social sustainability in order to strengthen our programs and develop new and impactful initiatives to create shared value for coffee farmers,” said Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO of Nestlé Nespresso. “While we have come a long way over the past ten years, we are driven by the need to continue to move forward.

“The insight and independent perspectives brought by these thought leaders will help advance our sustainability efforts and will ensure that we remain focused on initiatives that will have a positive overall impact on the environment and social aspects of our value chain,” he added.

In Ethiopia and Kenya, Nespresso says it will expand the AAA Program to include more smallholder coffee farmers and will partner with local governments and TechnoServe to improve coffee sustainability at farm level. The company also will launch community development programs that address key socio-economic challenges in the coffee growing communities and support farmer welfare.

The partners expect to double the amount of coffee sourced from the region to 10,000 tons by 2020 through the extension of the program to smallholder farmers. This expansion of the AAA Program will build on the success of the program in Latin America and its recent expansion to India.

The South Sudan project, in cooperation with TechnoServe and actor George Clooney, will revive high-quality coffee production in the country to contribute to economic development and create supply. It is expected that thousands of smallholder farmers will benefit from the initiative. As part of the program, Nespresso plans to be the first company to offer coffee from the country following its independence.

In related coffee supply chain news, global food and beverage giant Mondelez International recently unveiled a new training facility for coffee farmers to promote sustainability and entrepreneurship in Vietnam. The company says this is a major step toward implementing its "Coffee Made Happy" sustainability program, which commits to investing at least $200 million to help one million coffee farming entrepreneurs by 2020.


Currently based in Washington, D.C, Mike Hower is a writer and strategic communicator helping to drive the conversation at the intersection of sustainable business and public policy. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from University of California,… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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