Household Income in Coffee


Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

living income

(Photo: courtesy of Fairtrade America.)

[A]pproximately 80 percent of the world’s coffee is produced by 17.7 million small-scale coffee farmers, and, according to a pilot study by Fairtrade International and True Price, many coffee farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet despite sustainability pledges in the coffee sector.

This report sheds light on how much coffee farmers earn, as well as Fairtrade’s potential impact on household income. According to the report, most coffee farmers do not earn a living income—defined as sufficient income generated by a rural household to afford a decent standard of living for all the household members—from their coffee. On average, about 50 percent of household income comes from coffee production, but that varied greatly between countries.

Of the seven countries included in this study (Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam), only farmers in Indonesia were earning a living household income. Farmers in Indonesia rely heavily on income from coffee production, but Kenyan farmers depend mainly on other sources of income. Farmers in India and Indonesia were the only ones able to pay their hired workers a living wage using their coffee income.

The coffee sector at large is aware of poverty in coffee growing countries, as well as the general solution: that coffee farmers need to be paid more for their coffee, and consumers need to be making up the difference. Data collected from Indian and Indonesian coffee farmers shows that when production volume matches with a higher coffee price, farm owners and hired workers can make a living wage.

Fairtrade’s overall goal is to see small-scale farmers earn a living income that provides them and their families with a sustainable livelihood. Fairtrade already has a minimum price program, but in the light of this study, the organization intends to do more market development, support diversification into other crops, and help improve yields and farm efficiencies.

Rachel Sandstrom Morrison is Fresh Cup’s associate editor.

Share This Article

Rachel Sandstrom Morrison

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Other Articles You May Like

A New Chapter for Taza Presidencial, A Bolivian-Born Coffee Quality Competition

Quality-focused competitions have fueled coffee improvements in Bolivia. But when government funding ran out for Taza Presidencial, local coffee professionals made sure the competition stayed alive.
by Sandra Elisa Loofbourow | September 8, 2023

Direct Trade via Direct Message: How Instagram is Facilitating a New Kind of Coffee Connection

One morning in 2022, I walked into work to find an envelope of green coffee samples from a source I wasn’t familiar with. My boss told me they came from a Costa Rican coffee…
by Fionn Pooler | August 30, 2023

A Look at the Future of Fine Robusta Through Vietnamese Specialty Coffee

For years, Robusta has gotten a bad rep, but people are beginning to reconsider its potential. Vietnam may already have the blueprint for the future of Robusta.
by Mikey Rinaldo | August 11, 2023

In India, Black Baza Champions Sustainability and Smallholder Farmers

Black Baza Coffee aims to support smallholder coffee farmers pursuing biodiversity on their farms while guaranteeing them a fair price for their crops.
by Sohel Sarkar | July 12, 2023