Agroecological conditions in the Department of Nariño, Colombia, are ideal for producing two high-value crops with stimulant properties: cocoa and coffee. The presence of armed actors in the region, both legal and illegal, has led to violence and displacement of more than 80,000 people between 2008 and 2010. Uncertain market and climate conditions increase risks for coffee farmers. All of this occurs in the context of widespread poverty: in 2012, coffee growers in Nariño had a 53% probability of falling below the national poverty line. To take advantage of the growing demand for specialty coffee, national and local policy frameworks need further strengthening to support smallholder coffee farmers through inclusive value chains.
Starting 2012, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) partnered with CIAT in a five-year initiative called the Borderlands Coffee Project. Using a “research-for-influence” framework, CRS and CIAT joined efforts with the Government of Nariño and local institutions to develop a strategy to improve the competitiveness and inclusiveness of the department’s coffee supply chain.
CIAT helped plan participatory research with the relevant stakeholders and delivered technical and scientific information to key regional actors in the public and private sectors to inform their decision-making in the sector.
What has changed?
The Government of Nariño adopted the suggested strategies as public policy and invested COP $13.538.084.954 (approximately US$4.5 million as of this writing) to support the implementation of strategies to strengthen the coffee value chain. They also invested COP $1.7 trillion (approximately US$567 million) in related projects including road infrastructure, irrigation, and food security.
This project introduced result-based evidence into the decision-making process and aligned the interests of the public and private sectors and civil society around a shared strategy. The policy influence, initially impacting only 1,600 smallholder farmer families directly, can potentially reach the entire population of Nariño coffee growers, who number around 40,000.