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Arvid Nordquist is testing an innovative method to reduce carbon footprint of coffee farms

Arvid Nordquist

SOLNA, Sweden – Arvid Nordquist coffee roastery, in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance, is testing a new, innovative method to drive reforestation and greatly reduce the carbon footprint of coffee production. “It’s traceable, measurable – and sustainable”, says Erica Bertilsson, Sustainability Director at Arvid Nordquist, Sweden’s leading coffee producer with a sustainability agenda.

The method is based on the digital platform FARM-TRACE, which is used to measure and verify forest impact and carbon sequestration across thousands of coffee farms simultaneously. The platform does this by combining mobile app data, satellite imagery and machine learning data. “With the resulting information, growers are guided to practices that reduce carbon emissions. Those practices also unlock new income opportunities from growing trees integrated pr alongside their coffee production on behalf of coffee brands seeking to meet new climate commitments” says Will Sheldon, Commercial Director at Taking Root, an international reforestation not for profit organization who have developed the FARM-TRACE tool.

“We combine advanced technology with traditional know-how to simultaneously help the environment and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” says Dr. Kahlil Baker, CEO of Taking Root.

The project takes place over a period of 26 months and is carried out jointly by Arvid Nordquist, FARM-TRACE and Rainforest Alliance

The Swedish consulting company U&We is also participating by assisting with the development of a “carbon calculator” to help farmers reduce their emissions. The project has received funding from the Nordic Development Fund (Nordic Climate Facility).

“The collaboration with actors such as Arvid Nordquist and Rainforest Alliance is helping us to test this new innovative approach, with the opportunity to scale up once we see positive results. And the support from the Nordic Development Fund shows that the industry is beginning to understand the importance of putting smallholder farmers at the heart of natural climate solutions,” says Will Sheldon.

The idea behind FARM-TRACE came out of the award-winning reforestation project, CommuniTree, in Nicaragua, which is run by Taking Root, to solve the challenges that a geographically dispersed and fragmented tree-planting project experienced. Arvid Nordquist has had a far-reaching coffee collaboration in Nicaragua for more than 20 years, and has also purchased climate compensation credits from CommuniTree for ten years. Arvid Nordquist introduced Taking Root to their coffee partners in Nicaragua, which eventually resulted in this project.

“It is farming that generates the most carbon emissions. If we’re to be able to do something about it, technology and knowledge must be accessible, implementable and context specific, so that coffee farmers can take action and benefit from it,” says Dr. Martin Noponen, Director Nature, Rainforest Alliance.

While small-scale coffee farmers are affected by the effects of global warming, they also play an important role in contributing to a reduction in carbon emissions. This project strengthens their resilience to climate change. And it is being done without costly consultants or time-consuming reporting work, which is often an impossibility for small-scale coffee growers.

To use FARM-TRACE, all Arvid Nordquist’s coffee partners need to do is to download the mobile app, measure the perimeter of the farm, and FARM-TRACE will automatically generate sample plots to measure. In each sample plot, technicians gather basic data such as tree height and species. No internet connection is required out in the field. FARM-TRACE then pairs the data with third-party databases and satellite images, developing machine learning algorithms to automatically generate reports on trees, forest cover and carbon sequestration on farms. Anyone with access can easily follow and control data through the web platform.

“As much as 148 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be released from the atmosphere if the entire coffee sector decided to become more climate-smart. Taking Root, Arvid Nordquist and the Rainforest Alliance want to drive this development,” says Will Sheldon.

The goal is to be able to scale up the experiment and use the method in Arvid Nordquist’s supplier network.

“Our customers and consumers should be able to feel confident that they’re contributing to a more climate-smart planet everytime they drink a good cup of Arvid Nordquist coffee. At the same time, they help smallholder coffee farmers to improve their income opportunities. And they should feel secure that they themselves can check that this is true,” says Erica Bertilsson.

“This is a cutting-edge project that will take Arvid Nordquist, who is already a leader in sustainable coffee production, another step on the road to zero emissions across its supply chain in Nicaragua. The collaboration is proof of the company’s strong commitment to sustainability,” says Will Sheldon.

The project

Implementation of FARM-TRACE, a digital platform aimed at helping small coffee growers create new forms of income from growing trees.

The idea is to measure the reduction in carbon emissions in a simple and transparent way so that coffee brands can meet their climate commitments.

The trial lasts for 26 months in Nicaragua, with positive impacts including putting 1,400 ha of coffee production under sustainable management and delivering 18,000 tons of CO2 emission reductions.

It is a collaboration between Taking Root, Arvid Nordquist HAB, Rainforest Alliance, Ecom, Aprodein and U&We.

The project has been financed by the Nordic Development Fund (Nordic Climate Facility).

The goal is to scale up the method to all of Arvid Nordquist’s small-scale coffee suppliers across several countries.

How FARM-TRACE works

1) Coffee farmers collect basic information in a mobile app.

2) This data is processed using a series of algorithms and automatically matched with satellite images to provide forest and carbon assessments of coffee farms.

3) Participants can continually follow the development of impacts to help improve results with farmers and/or communicate their impacts against their climate targets by logging in to a website.

Arvid Nordquist Coffee Roastery

Arvid Nordquist is a family-owned coffee roastery with an established business since 1884, and has been appointed purveyor of the Royal Swedish Court since 1907. The company sources 100% sustainably certified coffee by RFA/UTZ and FT, and has done so for seven years. Arvid Nordquist defined a carbon neutrality strategy ten years ago, with annual carbon calculations done in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Today, Arvid Nordquist runs a 100% fossil-free coffee roastery, with 92% fossil-free distribution and 70% bioplastic packaging. All remaining emissions are carbon offset through tree-planting projects in coffee-producing countries over a period of ten years. Arvid Nordquist coffee is, and has always been, 100% high quality arabica.

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an international, non-profit organization working in more than 70 countries at the intersection of business, agriculture and forestry. The Rainforest Alliance is creating a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities. By bringing farmers, forest communities, companies and individuals together, the Rainforest Alliance addresses some of today’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. The organization is changing the way the world produces, sources and consumes, with a focus on cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, forest products and palm oil, through its certification program, supply chain services, landscape management and advocacy. In 2019, more than five million hectares of land and more than two million farmers were certified according to Rainforest Alliance or UTZ standards, which are designed to improve economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Taking Root

Taking Root is an internationally acclaimed, non-profit organization on a mission to regenerate tropical forests by improving farmer livelihoods. It helps climate-conscious brands to invest in farming communities around the world to grow forests as a way of complementing agricultural practices. Taking Root’s unique approach comes from their innovative technology platform, Farm-Trace, which automates the measurement and verification of forest and carbon impacts by combining local, satellite and machine learning data. This means that brands can meet their climate commitments with confidence, while ensuring that farmers benefit and increase their incomes from the trees they grow.