Rainforest Alliance Certification: Making a Difference For Coffee Farmers Worldwide

Rainforest Alliance Certification: Making a Difference For Coffee Farmers Worldwide

By Alex Morgan, Director of Markets Transformation, Rainforest Alliance

At Dunkin’ Donuts, coffee leadership is more than just serving a great-tasting, high quality cup of coffee. We care about supporting efforts to source coffee sustainably, in a way that makes a positive impact on the coffee farming community throughout the world.

For many years, we have worked closely with organizations like the Rainforest Alliance to source sustainably and support efforts to protect coffee forests, help to ensure farms meet environmental standards, and benefit and empower the coffee farmers. Yesterday, we announced that we will continue to fulfill our commitment to coffee farmers and to sustainable sourcing by expanding our collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. By the end of 2016, all Dunkin’ Donuts espresso beverages served in the United States and in approximately 15 international markets will be made exclusively with 100% espresso beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

We have invited Alex Morgan, Director of Markets Transformation for the Rainforest Alliance, to author a guest blog post about its impact on coffee farming communities worldwide.

Farm worker tending to coffee nursery on a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm.

Once the farm in Guatemala where coffee farmer Leticia Monzón is employed became Rainforest Alliance Certified™, the quality of life for her family and neighbors greatly improved. Before obtaining certification, wastewater from the mill and sewage polluted and contaminated streams and rivers, posing a health risk. With Rainforest Alliance certification, she says, “everything changed. As a mother, I want to say this has improved the well-being of our children.”

For the past 29 years, the Rainforest Alliance has been working towards a vision where planet and people prosper together, driving both environmental and social sustainability worldwide. We do this by helping conserve forests and natural resources while advancing sustainable livelihoods and improving quality of life for workers, their families and local communities. Since farms began to be certified to the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Standard in 1992, SAN/Rainforest Alliance certification has expanded to cover 1.2 million farms in 42 countries, growing 101 different crops on about 3.5 million hectares.

Around the world, 1.3 billion people, including many farmers, live on less than US $1.25 a day. At the Rainforest Alliance, we believe that providing farmers with the tools to run more productive, sustainable farms and businesses can help lift them out of poverty while protecting and improving the land and the biodiversity it supports. Through technical assistance, the Rainforest Alliance and its partners work with farmers and forest managers to provide them with the know-how to manage their natural resources in the long term. Those that meet rigorous environmental, social and economic standards can use the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal to differentiate their products, reach new markets, negotiate better prices, and improve their access to credit.

Rainforest Alliance certification focuses on providing farmers with technical training they would not have access to otherwise. This training helps them learn essential skills to run their farms sustainably, increase their productivity and yield, and produce high quality coffee, all of which helps them gain and keep access to new markets. In addition, certification helps to improve working conditions and benefits to families such as access to medical care and schools for children. Findings in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) / Rainforest Alliance Impacts Report, released earlier this year, show that Rainforest Alliance certification benefits small-scale producers. Smallholder farms applying the agronomic practices outlined in the SAN Standard were found to increase productivity and profitability, improve environmental quality and health, and gain increased access to training.

Companies – and their consumers – who purchase Rainforest Alliance Certified™ products, such as coffee, are key to these worldwide  farmers’ success. The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, our little green frog, is recognized by consumers around the world as the symbol of environmental, social and economic sustainability – a symbol that helps both businesses and consumers do their part to ensure a brighter future for us all.

Watch more videos showcasing the impact of Rainforest Alliance Certification on coffee farms here: