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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy: Africa Great Lakes Region Coffee Support Program fsp

The long-term viability of the coffee sector in the Africa Great Lakes region, the main source of cash income for millions of smallholder farmers and families in the region, is threatened first by increasingly prevalent antestia bug infestation (and associated potato taste defect⎼⎼PTD), and second by coffee yields that are among the world’s very lowest. AGLC is a three-year, USAID-funded collaborative initiative led by Michigan State University that meets these combined challenges through an integrated program of applied research, farmer capacity building and policy engagement. The solution requires a public-private sector coordinated response across the entire value chain, including producers, washing stations, dry mills, exporters and the government agencies that support the sector’s growth. The goal of the program is to dramatically reduce the effects of antestia/PTD and raise farm-level productivity, two changes that will in turn improve smallholder farmer incomes and help to sustain the Africa Great Lakes region’s reputation for producing among the highest quality coffees in the world.

Through applied policy, household, and agronomic (field-level) research university and other research partners will objectively and empirically inform coffee sector stakeholders in Rwanda, Burundi and elsewhere in the region concerning the most effective practices for controlling antestia/PTD and for establishing a policy environment that will provide the necessary incentives for coffee producers to invest their labor, land and cash resources in these improved practices.

Capacity building & outreach through public and private partners will increase stakeholder awareness and provide farmers with the skills and best practices for antestia/PTD control and enhanced productivity in the field. Demonstration plots, modified farmer field schools (FFS), combined with radio broadcasts and targeted SMS messages will be used to maximize the program’s reach across the region.

Policy engagement to help coffee stakeholders in Rwanda and Burundi to debate, formulate and adopt policies that will motivate producers and other actors in the coffee value chain to invest in ways that will increase smallholder farmer incomes and provide for a more sustainable future for all in the coffee sector. Based on the barriers to farm-level investment in coffee production identified through the project’s applied research activities, the alliance partners will engage coffee sector decision-makers in formulating effective, evidence-based policies and regulations to address critical issues such as setting coffee cherry prices for optimal farmer investment, linking prices to coffee quality, and providing washing station access to pre-financing to level the playing field in competing for cherry during the harvest season.

The alliance will forge enduring ties between the public, private, and university sectors, all of which are necessary for building sustainable regional capacity in research, extension/outreach, and policy analysis and formulation. Along with Michigan State University the key implementing partners are the University of Rwanda, the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), the Polytechnic University of Gitega, the University of Ngozi and the Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI). Lead capacity building and policy partners include CEPAR, Starbucks and NAEB in Rwanda, and InterCafé, Webcor, and ARFIC in Burundi. Through the active involvement of these partners, AGLC will broadly strengthen smallholder producer capacities and incentives to control antestia/PTD and raise farm-level productivity; together these changes will help to bring greater sustainability to coffee production in the region and to preserve its legacy among roasters, retailers and consumers around the globe as a source of world-class coffees.

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