Tchibo Joint Forces!® 

GRI 203-1; GRI 413-1

In the supply chain: support for small­holders and their families

Our Tchibo Joint Forces!® quali­fi­cation programme is dedicated to the coffee farmers in our supply chains. We support them in the step-by-step shift from conven­tional to ecolog­i­cally and socially acceptable and econom­i­cally sustainable coffee farming: through measures that are tailored to their specific challenges. This includes training, educa­tional offers for the whole family, access to infras­tructure, and the estab­lishment of long-term supplier relation­ships. In Tchibo Joint Forces!®, we cooperate with green coffee exporters and traders, agricul­tural scien­tists and inter­na­tional standard organ­i­sa­tions, govern­mental and non-govern­mental organ­i­sa­tions. Since the start of the programme in 2012, we have reached some 34,000 coffee farmers in Brazil, Honduras, Kenya, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Guatemala, and Vietnam with the Tchibo Joint Forces!® programme, and enabled approx­i­mately 20,000 of them to gain certi­fi­cation in accor­dance with the require­ments of the inter­na­tionally recog­nised standards organ­i­sa­tions FairtradeRainforest Alliance und UTZ, or validation to the baseline standards of the 4C Associ­ation

In 2017 we launched three new Tchibo Joint Forces!® projects in Guatemala, Honduras and Tanzania. We obtain sustainable green coffee quality from these regions, e.g. for our Privat coffee range. In these projects, we collab­orate with NGOs, standard organ­i­sa­tions and retailers, and seek to help make coffee culti­vation sustainable and profitable long-term for farmers, so that they and their families can improve their living condi­tions and we can secure our supply of green coffee grades. 

Demand-driven further devel­opment of the TJF!® quali­fi­cation programme

Both the global context and societal expec­ta­tions have changed in recent years, as shown, for example, by the UN Sustainable Devel­opment Goals (SDGs) and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Initial evalu­a­tions also show that we are not yet adequately meeting our own aspira­tions for making an impact. It has become clear that the coffee farmers require even more demand-driven support, both with regard to the farmer’s own state of devel­opment and the country-specific context. After all, they face myriad challenges ranging from climate change to increased production costs, markets that have become more complex, and insuf­fi­cient educa­tional oppor­tu­nities for their children. Our goal in devel­oping the programme is to work with farmers, cooper­a­tives and other local actors to pinpoint the different needs through a process- and dialogue-oriented approach, and identify and test joint solutions. In particular, we want to further expand the greater consid­er­ation of the specific require­ments of local farmers and cooper­a­tives. The most important result of the devel­opment to date is the shift from the previous modular training programme to a toolbox. We want to contribute to the improvement of local and regional struc­tures in line with the principle of “help for self-help.” This toolbox is tailored to the different needs of each region, is scalable, and goes beyond the existing training modules. 

The toolbox essen­tially comprises the following compo­nents: 

  • Training in sustainable culti­vation, management skills, soil analysis, adaptation to climate change, quality improvement, and increasing production  
  • Long-term supply contracts 
  • Certi­fi­ca­tions according to the require­ments of inter­na­tional standard organ­i­sa­tions 
  • Educa­tional offers (for children) 
  • Community projects 

The aim is to increase the quality and quantity of the partic­i­pating farmers’ coffee and thus, their profitability. We want to improve the local struc­tures in such a way that the measures have a lasting effect – even if this takes time. For instance, we fund our partners’ training on using fertilisers and pesti­cides, on accounting, and on the sales process. By maintaining long-term, stable supplier relation­ships and reinforcing compliance in the supply chain with standards organ­i­sa­tions, we maintain and improve the condi­tions for growing high-quality coffee. We also focus on specific topics, such as farming as a family business, or educa­tional oppor­tu­nities for children and teens, to also involve the farmers’ families and commu­nities in sustainable devel­opment and thus improve the overall living condi­tions in these regions. 

Initial assessment of the effec­tiveness of Tchibo Joint Forces!® in Brazil

In 2016 we began to assess the effec­tiveness of Tchibo Joint Forces!®, to identify the measures that help farmers the most. We carried out the first baseline assessment at the Minas Gerais project in Brazil, where we buy Fairtrade-certified green coffee from COOPFAM. One of the most important findings of this assessment was that the coffee farmers prefer to sell their beans to the COOPFAM cooper­ative: they pay compet­itive prices, and offer training that the farmers feel is helpful. Most would like to sell exclu­sively to COOPFAM, but not all coffee beans are accepted due to a lack of quality in some cases. At the same time, it emerged that there are still no adequate best-practice methods regarding the use of pesti­cides, only for weeding and pruning. A need for improvement was identified during post-harvest processes (e.g. drying processes and storage). All in all, the farmers are not very good at estimating their costs, nor do they keep a record of these costs. 

Based on the results of the effec­tiveness assessment, we came up with the following measures: The farmers will be offered training to improve post-harvest practices as well as for profitability calcu­lation. The partic­i­pation of women will be increased in addition to the existing COOPFAM programmes. In addition, best practice for the control of pests and diseases will be presented, and taste training (‘cuppings’) will be hosted to improve the under­standing of coffee grades. 

Following our positive experience in Brazil, in future we will focus even more on analysing specific local needs with the partic­i­pation of the farmers’ families. For example, for the launch of a new project in Honduras in October 2017, we conducted several workshops and needs analyses together with Fairtrade, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC), our suppliers, cooper­a­tives and local farmers. Now, we are working with the cooper­a­tives and farmers to develop a project plan. In this first phase, our aim is to help them formulate their own needs and goals and develop their own solutions. We then make imple­men­tation possible through financial support, advice, and the provision of expertise. 

Tchibo Joint Forces!® Quali­fi­cation Program

34.000 coffee farmers have partic­i­pated in the TJF!® quali­fi­cation program to date.