Rainforest Alliance to certify 10% of coffee exports

by JulieCraves on October 2, 2006

Rainforest Alliance (RA) received a seven-year, $12 million grant to increase the number of certified farms in six Latin American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. By the project’s end, RA will have certified 10% of the world’s coffee (they currently certify less than 1%).  The grant comes from the Global Environmental Facility, an independent financial organization established in 1990 by the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Program, and the United Nations Development Program. These entities manage projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities.

Grant funds will go towards increasing production and demand of RA coffees. On the production side, RA indicates it will “provide farmers with the information and tools necessary to improve their management practices and make them more responsible with regards to the environment, workers and communities.”  Plans for increasing demand include encouraging companies to buy and promote RA certified coffee, and arranging media tours of RA certified farms so that consumers realize “their potential roles in fostering the conservation of habitats and quality of life for millions of third-world workers.”

The press release (PDF) as well as a separate project summary put the emphasis on the marketing side.  Elsewhere, there was mention of a research or monitoring component, noting that the “project also plans to monitor and document the impact of coffee plantations on biodiversity.”

Obviously there is no incentive for farmers to produce coffee which is sustainable (under any certification scheme) without sufficient demand. I think it will be very important for third parties to make sure that consumers are clearly educated about what they are supporting when they purchase RA certified coffee — especially versus other certification programs.

Revised on November 28, 2020

Posted in Certifications,Rainforest Alliance

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