Farmer Knowledge Exchange: Diversification Strategies in Smallholder Coffee Systems


Community Agroecology Network




Diversifying coffee farming is crucial for a thriving coffee industry and the well-being of small producers. In coffee farming, diversification refers to introducing new products to the farm so that coffee isn’t the farmer’s sole source of income. Yet there's still a lot of research that needs to be done.

The coffee diversification project brings together farmers, farmers’ cooperatives and researchers to learn together about what diversification activities work and why, in a farmer knowledge exchange. This project forefronts two coffee cooperatives CESMACH & PRODECOOP, leaders in organizing to develop direct relationships with specialty coffee buyers that pay better prices, promoting practices that create alternative income streams, elevate women’s work, build climate resilience and conserve biodiversity.

For farmers facing a changing climate and volatile pricing on the international commodity market, diversification means farming families are not wholly dependent on a single cash crop for export, providing more reliable income. Diversification also supports biodiversity and helps to protect crops from diseases. Ultimately, diversification helps the whole coffee industry to thrive.

With your support, we can build resilient coffee farms. 


Why is this exchange important?

  • Create spaces of dialogue of multiple knowledge that help to broaden a deeper understanding of the benefits and limitations of diversification strategies
  • Farmers will learn to evaluate the effectiveness of diversification strategies and farmer empowerment to relate to their peers interested the incorporation of diversification strategies in their agricultural systems.
  • Lean about how well workshop tools have worked towards understanding diversification strategies among farmers
  • Facilitate a sharing space to learn about past productive diversification strategies both (positive and negative) among farmers
  • Visit to cooperatives and productive fields for in situ learning exchange including CADA, grain/seed bank facilities and other sustainable food systems projects in the region of Estelí and PRODECOOP central office.
  • A continual integration of producer’s vision in participatory diversification research by collectively contextualizing learnings on livelihood for each country from farmer’s perspectives.
  • Share strategies on facilitating the building of other skills with families
  • Learn about the difficulties (technical or logistically) to achieve productive diversification in each community.
  • Decide next steps for co-creation of knowledge, knowledge sharing, and implementation after this exchange

What are the expected outcomes?

The farmer exchange will allow all 70 collaborators to work from emergent lessons, identify promising practices for broader implementation, and implement learnings on identifying the effectiveness of diversification strategies. Farmers will be empowered to apply such learnings to farming systems with their communities, cooperative leaders will confidently include vetted diversification strategies in their strategic plans, and scientists and development practitioners will be prepared to accompany smallholder farmers as they integrate on-farm diversification strategies into their farming systems.

What will the funds cover?

An on-site knowledge exchange is a valuable way to learn and dialogue about farming practices. The budget will cover costs of meals, lodging, transportation, and documentation of the event for other farmers and collaborators, and most importantly, field visits. The latter will allow direct interaction in farmer’s fields, universities, and cooperative facilities where farmers will share their experiences and take part in ongoing practices.

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