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Lykke about ecology and certifications

JANUARY 2021 | Written by Lars Pilengrim

Within the coffee industry there is a multitude of certifications to be found. All with varying levels and criteria for farmers to comply with.

As a coffee buyer you just have to pay the extra fee to collect the certifications and you’re good to go, to put the sought for emblems on your packaging. That extra money doesn’t necessarily end up with the farmers, but with the certifying party. Certifications are a great first step towards more sustainable coffee production, but it is also a way to buy yourself free from further responsibility.

We stand to find a single certification, not a combination of certifications that fully explains how we at Lykke Kaffegårdar work with our coffee and everyone involved in our supply chain.

Lykke Kaffegårdar, therefore, set out to go beyond traditional certifications and instead opt to transparently tell you what we do - with both the successes we have as well as the challenges we face.

We establish our role model farms after carefully analyzing the microclimate, terroir and the surrounding environment and its biodiversity. Each place we go is unique and requires a constant cooperation with nature. It is imperative for us that our coffee grows in a rich nature, in an environment where shade trees give the coffee its much needed rest from the most intense sunlight, but more importantly also create a habitat and sanctuary for further life. Coffee trees thrive in and with the forest, in rich biodiversity that also contributes to holding up vital ecosystems.

Our work with our own farms and the work we engage in with our neighboring producers demands a long term perspective, as conversions of agriculture can be both time consuming and expensive. This work is essential in our pursuit of securing a future of sustainable coffee farming.

Organic certifications involve many and frequent controls of the production, that in many cases favor the bigger and more efficient farms capable of producing larger quantities to larger buyers.

The costs associated with certifications are often covered by the producer, which makes it hard for a smallholder farmer with less financial means. Despite the potential for increase in revenue from organic certification, studies have also shown that the financial net isn’t always improved, as the costs for the producer has increased.**

The market for certified products is based on the demand of these products. Meaning a producer might benefit from certifications if demand is steadily high. But what happens to producers when demand decreases?

Producers might then be forced to sell their products as conventional, generating lower incomes but at the same time with the higher cost of production.

We therefore don’t believe that a collection of certifications on products is the solution. But rather see the need for an overall system change in how coffee is grown, valued and consumed. And here’s where we have a big responsibility to communicate transparently towards our end consumers – so that you can trust that we’re being true to our mission.

For us, organic is about much more than a seal on a coffee bag. And through our business model our aim is to achieve
greater impact.

These insights, together with our vast experience in all of coffee’s supply chain tells us the organic certification is not our primary focus. Our farms and platform for education is based on the following principles and ideas:

  • Economic and social impact, farmers shall get paid more
  • Farming with good knowledge and understanding of how soil works in order to curb erosion and depletion.
  • Diverse ecosystems
  • Processing of coffee with minimal use of water or impact on surrounding nature.
  • Farming without agro toxic chemicals

* German, L. A., Bonanno, A. M. & Cath, L., 2020. “Inclusive business” in agriculture: Evidence from the evolution from the agricultural value chains. World Development, 134(10).
* Vellema, W., Buritica Casanova, A. & Gonza, C., 2015. The effect of speciality coffee certification on household livelihood strategies and specialisation. Food Policy, Volym 57, pp. 13-25.

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