Improving Rural Livelihoods through Promoting High-quality Coffee and Coffee Cherry Products in the Origin Countries Colombia and Bolivia

How can livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia and Bolivia be improved through the scaling-up to high-quality coffee products?

Project Summary

Coffee has a significant trade value internationally, while origin countries principally export green beans, and coffee farmers receive only about 0.5-1% of the generated value of the final cup. This trend puts rural livelihoods at risk and endangers the future of coffee production by rural families, who increasingly engage in off-farm activities and migrate to urban areas. To improve the livelihoods perspectives of smallholder coffee farmers, the proposed project will generate and promote knowledge in origin countries on domestic quality markets, increased added value of coffee and coffee cherry products for coffee farmers and their organisations within origin countries and beyond.

The project will put particular emphasis on developing and implementing strategies as well as related policies in origin countries and internationally. Together with project’s local partners, the research team will study the market- and livelihoods potential of high- quality coffee and coffee cherry products in two South American origin countries, where quality coffee value chains are emerging (Colombia), and where coffee cherry products (e.g. tea from dried coffee pulp) have been traditionally consumed, while high-quality coffee production and marketing are still in their infancies (Bolivia).

While the project is mainly aimed at livelihood improvements at the local level, the research is expected to improve also the positioning of the two origin countries in taking benefits of opportunities in export niche markets, e.g. for specialty coffee and coffee cherry products. Not only will a larger share of the added value be retained with the farmers in the origin countries, but also will the value of the final product increase and hence benefit various stakeholders.

Academic Output


POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS Improving Rural Livelihoods through Promoting High-quality Coffee and Coffee Cherry Products: Evidence from Bolivia and Colombia

Coffee provides a livelihood to millions of smallholder farmers, but faces a severe crisis due to low prices, climate change and plant diseases. Specialty coffee markets reward quality and can increase farm gate prices.  In producing countries like Colombia and Bolivia, specialty coffee is typically exported, and lower-quality coffee is marketed for domestic consumption. However, local demand for high-quality coffee is growing, and coffee cherry products are increasingly sought after. Climate change will severely affect most Arabica coffee areas. Coffee under shade trees in forested landscapes, climate-friendly management and post-harvest technologies will allow for an adapted and resilient coffee production that can also fulfil the highest quality criteria.

Working Paper

Improving rural livelihoods through promoting high-quality coffee and coffee cherry products in the origin countries Colombia and Bolivia

Coffee production in many countries is at a crossroads: While production costs increase, farm gate prices do not keep pace, and many families are shifting to other activities, especially in Latin America. At the same time, processing and market innovations – particularly in the specialty coffee sector – are spreading and demand for high-quality coffee in producing countries is emerging. This project investigated such new value chains, and if and under which circumstances coffee farming families in Bolivia and Colombia can profit from them. We also investigated the quality and chemical properties of green coffee and coffee cherry products (sultana as an important by-product of coffee) and derived recommendations for cultivation and post-harvest management in particular.

Research Team

Chahan Yeretzian
Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW

Stephan Rist
University of Bern

Sebastian Opitz
Principal Member
Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW

Nelson Gutiérrez Guzmán
Principa Member
Universidad Surcolombiana

Sabine Stauffacher
Principal Member
Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW

Ariel Hernan Romero Sanchez
Principal Member
Slow Food

Johanna Jacobi
Principal Member
University of Bern







Bolivia, Colombia, Switzerland

Host Institution