New Study Demonstrates Lasting Impact of TechnoServe’s Work with Coffee Farmers

Independent evaluation in Rwanda and Ethiopia finds that farmers continue to benefit from higher yields and prices five years after participating in coffee project

Washington, D.C. — The impact of TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative with smallholder farmers in Rwanda and Ethiopia has persisted five years after the project’s completion, states an independent evaluation just released from consulting firm IPE Triple Line. After working with the program to improve their crop productivity, business skills and market linkages, farmers continue to enjoy gains both in coffee yields and prices, the study found.

The evaluation, whose long-term nature is somewhat unusual in international development, was funded by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

For eight years, the Coffee Initiative helped farmers adopt productivity-enhancing agricultural practices and establish or improve cooperative wet mills–low-tech processing facilities that can pay farmers a premium for their coffee. At the conclusion of the project, the improved yields and higher prices catalyzed by these changes resulted in a 62-percent income increase for participating farmers in Rwanda and a 21-percent income increase for those in Ethiopia.

IPE Triple Line conducted an “ex-post” evaluation in communities where the project had been completed in 2011, in order to determine whether the the gains to farmer productivity and coffee price premiums were maintained five years later. The results of this evaluation were strongly positive.

Before the project, just 45 percent of farmers surveyed in Rwanda were found to be using at least half of the recommended agricultural practices. This number rose to 97 percent immediately after the farmers completed training in 2011. Five years later, IPE Triple Line found that 78 percent of farmers were still using at least half of the techniques, reflecting lasting changes to farmer behavior.

The evaluation also analyzed the project’s lasting impact on the price premium that wet mills paid farmers above the local price of traditionally-processed coffee. In Rwanda, at the conclusion of the project, the premium averaged 34 percent. For the latest harvest analyzed by the study, wet mills still paid farmers a premium, now at 25 percent. In Ethiopia, at the close of the project, the premium was 25 percent, and it rose to 45 percent in the ex-post analysis.

Because farmers continue to use yield-enhancing best practices and receive a price premium from wet mills, the evaluation was confident that the farmers continue to enjoy improved incomes five years after the conclusion of the project.

“Long-term evaluations like this one are crucial for measuring the true impact of development interventions,” said Charles Slaughter, Managing Director of the Goldsmith Foundation. “With this validation of lasting impact, we are hopeful that the kinds of methods applied in TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative will be scaled up in future development work.”

“We are pleased–though not surprised–to see this evidence of the enduring impact of market-driven solutions to poverty,” said William Warshauer, President and C.E.O. of TechnoServe. “TechnoServe’s projects are designed to bring lasting change and help enterprising women and men improve their livelihoods for many years after our participation ends.”

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TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, we work with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities. TechnoServe has earned a 4-star rating from independent evaluator Charity Navigator for the last 11 years, placing us in the top 1 percent of all its rated nonprofits.

With nearly 50 years of proven results, TechnoServe believes in the power of private enterprise to transform lives.