JDE Coffee is one of the largest buyers of UTZ Certified coffee world wide. Together with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs the company co-funded a study to investigate the effects of training and UTZ certification on coffee farmers in Vietnam. Given their substantial commitment to the UTZ Certified programme as well as its significant investment in the DE Foundation, it wanted to know whether buying of certified coffee, as well as the activities of the DE Foundation have an impact on farmers.

In collaboration with Wageningen University and Research, Agri-Logic designed a scientifically rigorous study using propensity score matching to create comparable groups of programme and non-programme farmers. By relying on a so-called difference in difference approach we were able to demonstrate causality of effects of training frequency, training and trainer quality as well as UTZ certification.

The main findings of this study with robusta coffee farmers and UTZ certification in Vietnam are that:

  1. Certification in this study primarily leads to access to training, uptake of management tools such as record keeping and investment planning, but not to significant improvements in farming efficiencies nor to better farm economic outcomes. Also, among the Vietnamese farmers in this research, UTZ certification by itself does not sufficiently tackle the main challenges such as over-irrigation and excessive fertilizer applications that the coffee sector is facing; and
  2. Improved farm management is primarily and positively affected by the amount and to a lesser extent by the quality of training that farmers have received.
The Sustainable Coffee Conundrum (DE Foundation)