Tuesday, 18 October 2011

More on coffee and cocoa

More on challenges facing the coffee and cocoa sectors.

From CIAT on impact of climate change on cocoa

By 2050, a rise of 2.3 degrees Celsius will drastically affect production in lowland regions, including the major cocoa-producing areas of Moyen-Comoe, Sud-Chttpand Agneby in Cote d'Ivoire, and Western and Brong Ahafo in Ghana. Farmers in these areas are particularly vulnerable since cocoa production is often their primary source of income.

"Many of these farmers use their cocoa trees like ATM machines," said CIAT's Dr. Peter Laderach, the report's lead author. "They pick some pods and sell them to quickly raise cash for school fees or medical expenses. The trees play an absolutely critical role in rural life."


Example from CIAT of Climate Smart Agriculture from a smallholder in Kenya

Film on its impact on coffee in Colombia

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Taxing fat

Dave Pannell posts on the Danish fat tax - he argues that it is ineffective, regressive and potentially with high transaction costs. On the plus side, the revenue raised could be used to make it less regressive.
Are there parallels with a carbon tax?

Greg Mankiw argues that a carbon tax is not regressive as the poor use less on carbon than the rich (who own more cars for example). Although presumably proportionally more of their income is spent on meeting basic needs which are carbon related expenditures (like food and heating).

Mankiw and Hansen both argue the regressive element of carbon can be reduced through paying dividends to the poor from the revenue raised.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Coffee and Climate Change

Last week I attended a conference in Lausanne organized on the topic of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Kenyan Coffee Sector. Attending the conference were representatives from all parts of the coffee supply chain, from producers to traders to brands as well as standard setters, NGOs, governments, international organizations, and academics. Having all of these players in the same room was enough to convince me of the severity of climate change for the coffee sector.

The context for such a conference is straight forward: coffee yields per hectare have been shrinking in the past years in the face of more variable climate. (For instance, variation in rainfall is directly related to variability in production). Incomes have been falling, coffee quality has become less reliable, and producers are going out of business. Because falling coffee yields and quality affect actors all along the value chain, the coffee sector as a whole has an interest in addressing climate change and helping producers adapt to its impacts. Producers need to adapt to changing climatic conditions. Industry needs to secure long-term quantity and quality of their product, as well as respond to national, regional and international climate legislation. And standards organizations need to incorporate climate change into the sustainability aspects of their work. While the impacts for each actor may be different, they all agree that intervention is necessary.

In this regard, a number of cooperative projects have been carried out in the past few years including the Development Partnership (PPP) between Sangana Commodities Ltd. and the German International Cooperation (GIZ) to support Kenyan coffee smallholders in adapting to climate change and incorporating climate change mitigation where possible. The project worked to support coffee producers to adapt their production to the changing climate, namely through the development of an additional component to the existing 4C Code of Conduct taking into account climate aspects. Coffee is a very versatile plant and with adequate support, producers can learn to adapt their production systems.

In addition to the 4C climate module, other standards systems such as Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified have also been actively involved in helping producers adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts. For instance, UTZ Certified is piloting a project where waste water from coffee production is converted into biogas through the use of bio-digesters. The biogas is either used for electricity or heat , or in large scale operations generates CO2 credits to offset emissions downstream in the value chain. Other projects have focused on the use of the Cool Farm Tool, developed by the University of Aberdeen with financial support from Unilever. This online, open source tool uses the PAS 2050 methodology and assists farmers in calculating the carbon footprint of their production. All farmers have to do is enter the data into the tool which then calculates their carbon footprint for them.

Overall, some interesting conclusions came out of the conference:

  • In the coffee sector, adaptation of climate change impacts should have a higher priority than mitigation. The coffee sector is responsible for less than 0.1% of global GHG emissions while climate change is already having serious negative impacts on the livelihoods of coffee producers in developing countries.

  • Coffee brands and consumers tend to view mitigation more favourably than adaptation since mitigation projects sell, while adaptation requires investment. However, through partnerships with other actors along the supply chain, modest investment in adaptation for coffee producers has been possible.

  • Much more investment will be needed to scale up adaptation projects to the necessary level. The supply chain will need to continue to work together and with local government authorities to come up with innovative solution and more importantly, agree on exactly where the needed funding will come from.

  • Finally, regarding mitigation in the coffee sector, it will be difficult to engage coffee producers when there is no clear benefit for them to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. Explaining the technical terminology, improving the ease and reducing the cost of data collection (for example through use of the Cool Farm Tool) can all prove beneficial. Above all though, mitigation projects need to be made inclusive of producers (e.g. generation of carbon credits that could be sold to fund adaptation projects).

Steve Jobs

From his Stanford Commencement Speech - three lesson for life

1. You have to believe the dots will connect in the future

2. You got to find what you love...the only way to do great work is to love what you do...keep looking don't settle

3. Remembering you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of being afraid of what you do...death is life's change agent...Don't follow dogma, it is other people's thinking...don't live other people's lives...stay hungry, stay foolish