Academic Venture Fund - 2013

Sustainable Coffee: A Better Model for Smallholder Farmers

Farmer in coffee plantation

Several coffee certification schemes are designed to integrate smaller growers in developing countries, yet the certifications' requirements actually exclude the poorest farmers. The relationship coffee model (RCM) provides an alternative. RCM allows smallholder farmers to form long-term trading partnerships with roasters, establishing fair prices and ensuring a consistent product. Reports of RCM's positive economic and environmental impacts have been anecdotal so far. Partnering with a leading buyer of sustainable coffee, the researchers will engage Colombian smallholders to develop farm-level sustainability performance indicators and provide the first rigorous analysis of RCM.

Investigators: Miguel Gomez, Harold van Es