Coffee, one world’s most traded commodities, is the economic backbone of countries throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa. Yet smallholder farmers in these coffee-growing regions face many challenges, including poverty, commodity price fluctuations and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns caused by climate change. Since 1995, the Rainforest Alliance has strengthened the position of coffee farmers by training them in methods that boost yields and safeguard the health of the land for future generations. All of this is part of our global strategy to ensure the long-term well-being of farm communities, as well as the forests and wildlife on which we all depend.
Supporting Farmers and Communities
The Rainforest Alliance works with coffee farmers to improve their livelihoods and the health and well-being of their communities. Coffee farms or groups of smallholder farmers that earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal are audited annually against a rigorous standard with detailed environmental, social and economic criteria. These criteria are designed to protect biodiversity, deliver financial benefits to farmers, and foster a culture of respect for workers and local communities. Rainforest Alliance certification also promotes decent living and working conditions for workers, gender equity and access to education for children in farm communities.
Protecting Land and Waterways
Decades ago, coffee farms were virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding forest. Traditional coffee-growing methods depended on the shade of the forest canopy, which supported local wildlife, migratory birds and better bean quality. In the 1970s the introduction of a new hybrid coffee plant requiring agrochemicals and full-sun exposure led many farmers to cut down their forests and abandon their traditional ways.
This high-tech approach to farming has devastated lands throughout the tropics.
On Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, coffee grows in harmony with nature: soils are healthy, waterways are protected, trash is reduced or recycled, wildlife thrives and migratory bird habitat flourishes. In addition, hundreds of farms we work with have adopted climate-smart techniques that sequester carbon. Most importantly, farm communities learn the importance of protecting their natural resources, and they acquire the tools and resources to do so.