ELAN DRC is a large scale value chain programme funded by DFID and implemented by Adam Smith International. For its coffee value chain programme in the Kivu’s, Agri-Logic was contracted to conduct a business case analysis ofor growing and exporting certified sustainable coffee.

Over a two-week period we conducted interviews and focus group discussions with coffee farmers, local exporters and cooperatives. Further interviews with international traders, coffee roasters, NGOs and certification agencies were held to collect sufficient data.

Analysis showed a reasonable business case for organic certified coffee, possibly in combination with Fairtrade, but only if the latter could be marketed sufficiently well. Our modelling showed that implementing of mainstream standards like UTZ Certified, 4C and Rainforest Alliance in this sector does not yield significant economic benefits for farmers and exporters alike. This is due to low volumes of coffee per farmer  and an above average quality profile, the buyers of which usually go for more demanding standards. As a result the ELAN DRC programme is currently rethinking its coffee strategy.