The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working with the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) to help transform the coffee landscape in Colombia, specifically in the departments of Valle del Cauca, Nariño and Quindio, by promoting an innovative and integrated approach that delivers social, economic and environmental benefits to communities.
Coffee has been a main engine of economic growth and development in the Andean region of Colombia for over 50 years, and growing conditions are ideal. However, more recently, coffee farmers have either adopted unsustainable practices or transitioned to less sustainable land uses amid falling coffee prices and climate variability. This has affected ecosystem resilience and has jeopardized the livelihoods of approximately 700,000 families.
The UNDP-FNC collaboration aims to benefit coffee farmers through: the certification and verification of coffee and agroforestry products; and a scheme where payments are generated from watershed services and carbon sequestration.
Farmers that sign conservation contracts with the FNC and plant trees receive payments proportional to the number of trees they each planted, based on the volume of CO2-equivalent sequestered, for which certificates are sold.
Such income has led to new landscape management practices that have increased resilience to climate change and natural disasters, as well as the ability to withstand the impacts of El Niño and La Niña.
One specific example of the project’s impact includes a municipality in Nariño, where a land restoration plan was initiated in an area where forests were lost to cattle ranch expansion.
More than 5,000 trees of 43 native species were planted on two hectares of degraded land, using landscape management tools, and the community was able to benefit from the sale of CO2 certificates, receiving a US$2,000 payment. Other municipalities also received payments for the sale of CO2 certificates.
Across the project’s interventions, the average net income of beneficiaries has increased by 8.5%, and local livelihoods have benefited from: certification and verification of coffee farms; the adoption of landscape management tools; property tax exemptions; value chain improvements, such as eliminating intermediaries; payment for carbon sequestration; and compensation for hydrologic environmental services.
The project’s approach has provided farmers with a greater incentive to grow eco-friendly coffee and increased their awareness of the links between ecosystem services and their economic and social well-being.
The FNC is now replicating this approach in an additional 52 coffee-growing municipalities across Colombia, in order to grow coffee in a sustainable manner, while building resilient livelihoods.