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NATIONAL COFFEE PLATFORMS

Min, 10/02/2016 - 11:41

The global landscape of sustainable coffee production
is evolving. Just a few short years ago, the coffee
sector lacked a clear collective developmental vision.
In 2013, only 15-20% of the total global trade in coffee
was verified / certified as sustainable. Supply chain
actors rarely spoke to each other about the challenges
they faced. And there were very few examples of
collaborations that led to a collective benefit and
action. At the same time, international industry and
trade were looking for opportunities to better engage
with the governments, extension services, and
producers within coffee-producing countries. To effect a
true, systemic change in the way coffee production was
organized at a country level, structured public/private
dialogue forums were needed.
The Sustainable Coffee Program (SCP), a joint initiative
with coffee-sector stakeholders, was launched in
2013. Its collective vision: to address the sustainability
issues faced by smallholder coffee producers, to
organize production in ways that truly benefit the
farmer, and, by benefiting the farmer, increase the
quality and reliability of production for roasters and
traders. Systemic issues facing coffee production are
quite different from country to country, so the SCP
engaged with the national public/private framework
of six countries: Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Tanzania,
Uganda, and Vietnam. In several of these countries
National Coffee Platforms (in the form of public/private
dialogue forums) existed prior to the involvement of the
SCP. In others, there was little, or no, trust or dialogue
between the public and private sector. The SCP
provided support to the platforms that already existed,
helping to create conditions in which their growth could
be accelerated or strengthened. In cases where there
was no formal platform, the SCP has helped to create
one.
The National Coffee Platforms today are important for
their ability to foster coffee-specific dialogue between
public and private sectors. They bring together
government representatives, policy makers, producers,
and trade-, industry-, and knowledge-leaders. They
create an environment in which common goals are
recognized, and common visions are shared. With
National Coffee Platforms in place, countries have
the potential to access shared tools and resources,
which can influence the ability of smallholder coffee
producers to produce coffee in a way that is more
beneficial to themselves, their communities, the
environment, and the economy.
In 2016, the SCP merged with the 4C Association (a
membership organization with 300-plus members
including roasters, NGOs, and other engaged
actors) to create the Global Coffee Platform
(GCP). The GCP is a multi-stakeholder membership
association with a shared vision to improve the
livelihoods and resilience of coffee farmers--and
the resilience and profitability of the sector as a
whole.
COLLECTIVE ACTION
The National Coffee Platforms are one of the keys
to organizing collective action in coffee-producing
countries. They are a conduit for discussing and
influencing policy, and for defining necessary levels
of training. They create a forum in which the voices of
stakeholders are not just heard, but listened to. And
they can be used to achieve more supportive legislative
proposals for sustainable production, acting as a
springboard for collective action.
Each platform has a secretariat, a role that is
sometimes filled by an SCP (now the GCP) National
Coordinator (NC).The secretariat's role is a fluid one,
which differs in requirement and responsibility from
country to country. Broadly, the secretariat facilitates
communication and provides mediatory functions
between stakeholders who may not previously have
been willing or able to collaborate.
In all countries, it is critical to have the support of
government. In most cases, this includes the ministries
of both agriculture and trade, with mandates to
influence law at local and national levels. The role of
the private sector is also crucial, and challenging. In
order to work towards a common vision and improve
the sector for all stakeholders (in particular the
producers), local and international trade and industry
need to be on board. Their participation strengthens
the ability of the National Coffee Platforms to connect
with the market and gain international recognition.

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