Making coffee-growing fair and equitable
How better investment and pricing decisions can improve the living conditions of farmers in developing countries.
Many people like a cup of coffee to start off their day. It tastes even better if you know the beans used to brew your morning pick-me-up comes from fair and sustainable sources. PhD candidate Nayeli Hernandez Martinez has investigated how coffee-producing companies can implement responsible initiatives that will help improve the living conditions of the coffee growers. She defends her thesis on Wednesday November 23th at the departement of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences.
In her research on socially responsible supply chains, Hernandez Martinez focused on developing countries. She studied how companies can implement socially responsible initiatives that will help improve the living conditions of the farmers.
Her work is based on two real-life cases: the Mexican Fractal Café, which supports coffee farmers in the region of Veracruz, and the Dutch Fairchain Foundation, which backs, among others, coffee farmers in Limu, Ethiopia.
Fair and equitable
She studied how investment and pricing decisions can help achieve an equitable profit distribution between a farmer and a buyer.
She also designed a premium payment scheme to support farmers that grow alternate bearing crops, which have high yields in some years and significantly lower ones in other years.
Finally, the researcher looked into how farmers decide where to sell their crops and how companies with socially responsible initiatives can provide an incentive to be the preferred sales channel.
Beyond good intentions
Overall, Hernandez Martinez concludes that good intentions are not sufficient to provide benefit to the farmers. These initiatives need to be carefully tailored to guarantee not only that they will yield benefits to the farmers, but also that they can be sustained in the long-term.
Nayeli Hernandez Martinez, Socially responsible operations in smallholder farmer agri-food supply chains, Supervisors: Jan Fransoo, Nevin Mutlu
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