Summary. -This paper links changing global coffee markets to opportunities and vulnerabilities for sustaining small-scale farmer livelihoods in northern Nicaragua. Changing governance structures, corporate concentration, oversupply, interchangeable commodity grade beans, and low farm gate prices characterize the crisis in conventional coffee markets. In contrast, certified Fair Trade and organic are two alternative forms of specialty coffee trade and production that may offer opportunities for small-scale producers. A research team surveyed 228 farmers to measure the impact of sales on organic and Fair Trade markets. The results suggest that participation in organic and Fair Trade networks reduces farmers' livelihood vulnerability.
This Special Issue on Diversified Farming Systems is motivated by a desire to understand how agriculture designed according to whole systems, agroecological principles can contribute to creating a more sustainable, socially just, and secure global food system. We first define Diversified Farming Systems (DFS) as farming practices and landscapes that intentionally include functional biodiversity at multiple spatial and/or temporal scales in order to maintain ecosystem services that provide critical inputs to agriculture, such as soil fertility, pest and disease control, water use efficiency, and pollination. We explore to what extent DFS overlap or are differentiated from existing concepts such as sustainable, multifunctional, organic or ecoagriculture. DFS are components of social-ecological systems that depend on certain combinations of traditional and contemporary knowledge, cultures, practices, and governance structures. Further, as ecosystem services are generated and regenerated within a DFS, the resulting social benefits in turn support the maintenance of the DFS, enhancing its ability to provision these services sustainably. We explore how social institutions, particularly alternative agri-food networks and agrarian movements, may serve to promote DFS approaches, but note that such networks and movements have other primary goals and are not always explicitly connected to the environmental and agroecological concerns embodied within the DFS concept. We examine global trends in agriculture to investigate to what extent industrialized forms of agriculture are replacing former DFS, assess the current and potential contributions of DFS to food security, food sovereignty and the global food supply, and determine where and under what circumstances DFS are expanding rather than contracting
We provide a review of sustainable coffee certifications and results from a quantitative analysis of the effects of Fair Trade, organic and combined Fair Trade/organic certifications on the livelihood strategies of 469 households and 18 cooperatives of Central America and Mexico. Certified households were also compared with a non-certified group in each country. To analyze the differences in coffee price, volume, gross revenue and education between certifications, we used the Kruskal-Wallis (K-W) non-parametric test and the Mann-Whitney U non-parametric test as a post-hoc procedure. Household savings, credit, food security and incidence of migration were analyzed through Pearson's chi-square test. Our study corroborated the conditions of economic poverty among small-scale coffee farmer households in Central America and Mexico. All certifications provided a higher price per pound and higher gross coffee revenue than non-certified coffee. However, the average volumes of coffee sold by individual households were low, and many certified farmers did not sell their entire production at certified prices. Certifications did not have a discernable effect on other livelihood-related variables, such as education, and incidence of migration at the household level, although they had a positive influence on savings and credit. Sales to certified markets offer farmers and cooperatives better prices, but the contribution derived from these premiums has limited effects on household livelihoods. This demonstrates that certifications will not singlehandedly bring significant poverty alleviation to most coffee-farming families. Although certified coffee markets alone will not resolve the livelihood challenges faced by smallholder households, they could still contribute to broad-based sustainable livelihoods, rural development and conservation processes in coffee regions. This can be done by developing more active partnerships between farmers, cooperatives, certifications and environmental and rural development organizations and researchers in coffee regions. Certifications, especially Fair Trade/organic, have proven effective in supporting capacity building and in serving as networks that leverage global development funding for small-scale coffee-producing households.
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