Impact story

Sustainable cup of coffee: WUR and Manos Al Agua

Coffee is an essential beverage for many people. The increasing demand for coffee and consequent increase in production is sure to lead to negative environmental and social impacts if its production is not managed sustainably. To tackle coffee sustainability challenges, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), together with Nestle and Nespresso, Wageningen University and Research, as well as the Colombian and Dutch governments, has founded Manos al Agua.

This public-private partnership focuses on the environmental, social and economic conditions of coffee farming families through inter-sectoral cooperation for sustainable coffee farming.

E-learning programmes for coffee growers

The partnership has developed a set of good practices regarding saving water and implemented e-learning programmes for coffee growers that have led to a 35% reduction in water consumption. This programme has reached more than 3,500 coffee plantations in Colombia. The project covers five regions along The Andes, reaching 11,000 coffee farmers. Manos Al Agua is supporting the shift towards resistant coffee varieties (e.g. against plagues such as coffee rust and berry borer) with more than 4.6 million new coffee trees planted. Alongside that, 330 hectares were reforested with more than 260,000 trees, and other bioengineering activities were undertaken, such as landslide prevention.

Altered mindset

The ecological implications of these actions are closely monitored by the partnership to ensure positive results and impact. The social impact created by the project is represented in the altered mindset of Manos al Agua’s participants, such as community groups, extension service, coffee departments and local authorities, and will be key to the lasting success of the project.