bonde legger kompost rundt kaffetreet
Compost fertilization by coffee farmer in San Martin, Peru.
Photo: Michell Leon/Solidaridad

Technical advice to coffee farmers led to increased yields for 65% of demonstration farms

Overall, Solidaridad has demonstrated and illustrated how farming can shift from being part of the problem to part of the solution to deforestation and climate change in Mexico, Peru and Colombia.


Solidaridad Network, Dutch

Why did Norway decide to support this project?

Agriculture is estimated to be the proximate driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide, and commercial agriculture is the most important driver in Latin America (around 2/3 of total deforested area). In this context, civil society organisations can help develop and promote sustainable supply chains of relevant commodities without contributing to unsustainable deforestation and forest degradation practices. At the same time, it is important to include smallholders in the shift towards sustainable production methods, if they have not already reached that stage.

Solidaridad’s project was chosen because of its role as a facilitator for the participation of smallholders in sustainable coffee production. There was also a clear link between the agricultural production methods and poverty reduction: In one of the project countries, namely Peru, 81% of deforestation was caused by expansion of the agricultural frontier, the main product was coffee, and most coffee producers were smallholder farmers living below the poverty line.



Norad is pleased with Solidaridad and its partners’ the results in this project. Below follows a description of Solidaridad’s reported achievements:

Overall, the project wanted to demonstrate how farming can shift from being part of the problem to part of the solution to deforestation and climate change. This was done through three pillars:


1. Building carbon stocks

Using the Cool Farm Tool, Solidaridad reports that they have been able to assess the carbon reductions and sequestration of the project. Total reduction in 2016 compared to 2013 is 27 869 ton of CO2 eq. and sequestration of 97 818 ton of CO2 eq. It is positive that the project has contributed to this reduction, although the results were not up to what Solidaridad initially expected, mainly due to the coffee rust in Mexico and Peru.

In Peru, Solidaridad contributed to avoided deforestation of 148 hectares and in Mexico they achieved a total number of 2788 hectares for the 850 participating farmers (88,5 ha by the 27 demonstration farmers). In Colombia, deforestation rate was already low in the coffee production area but Solidaridad has been able to plant 376 hectares of forest on coffee farms.

2. Strengthen capacity of farmers and agronomists in Mexico, Colombia and Peru

Solidaridad trained 7 361 farmers in three years in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, which produced in the last harvest 2015/2016 almost 17 500 ton of coffee. This means that the cost per kilo of coffee over the last year was seven Euro cent, which is in range with premiums paid for certified coffee. Another result of the trainings are increased yields in the demonstration farms of 65% and 21% in the other participating farms. 70% of the farmers also say that they apply two or more practices learned at the trainings.

In total, 230 agronomists were trained and were employed through the project or Solidaridad’s partners. These agronomists have actively transferred the knowledge learned on Climate-Smart Coffee practices to farmers. In addition 229 agronomists were trained, who worked for other non-partner organizations in the regions of the project. In Peru, Solidaridad estimates that at least 90% are employed by organizations committed to increase productivity and welfare of smallholder coffee farmers and as such Norad assesses that the intended transfer the learned knowledge and skills to farmers is likely to take place. In case of Colombia, all 72 additional agronomists are employed by partners of the coffee platform managed by Solidaridad and committed to assist smallholders.

3. Building knowledge

In addition to building knowledge on the ground in the three project countries, Solidaridad aimed to feed results to inform the development of CSA tools, carbon credit standards and agricultural certification schemes and national REDD+ and development strategies with a view to bring CSA practices to scale.

Solidaridad reached out to actors in Europe and the US to inform the development of climate smart agriculture tools, carbon credit standards.  In the US, Solidaridad has been in dialogue with different companies and alliances, but few concrete results have been achieved so far. In Europe, partnerships were maintained with Cool Farm Alliance and Gold Standard. By supporting the development of the agricultural methodology for generating carbon credits, Solidaridad has accelerated its development. By linking Cool Farm Alliance and Gold Standard, they have set up a direct partnership. Gold Standard accepted the Cool Farm Tool as a trustworthy tool for measuring carbon performance, but some adjustments need to be done for the Cool Farm Tool to be fully accepted by carbon credit standards.


Lessons learned

  • Capturing carbon in coffee and associated production systems is new, and not very intensively studied and with few projects implemented in the field of Colombian coffee production. For this reason, Solidaridad argues, it is necessary to undertake more studies related to measuring methodologies, the impact of different systems on the carbon footprint, practices that allow for the shrinking of the carbon footprint, economic evaluation of the possible measures to be implemented. In this way greater knowledge can be generated and improved levels of climate smart practices can be adopted.

  • The methodology for calculating carbon footprint serves to determine the green house gas emissions, but this proves useful only if there is a parameter for comparison, that is, the production system or farm must analyse the calculations in a way that can compare the emissions from distinct years and observe if there have been reductions or increases in green house gas emissions attributable to the implemented practices. In this way, it is recognized that emissions that can be reduced or compensated for depend on what the farm decides on as a strategy for environmental sustainability. During the first years of the project, improvements in the footprint are few. Only after five years are substantial improvements made and significant amounts captured.  



The result descriptions are based on the information provided by the organisations. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad. Norad has not verified all results reported.

Published 22.10.2013
Last updated 16.02.2015