Today is the day humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. More sustainable agriculture can be a powerful lever to push the date of Earth Overshoot Day.

Agriculture takes a big bite out of earth’s natural resources.  It is the leading source of pollution in several countries, with pesticides and fertilizers that are released into water and soil. Agriculture also accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. 17% through direct agricultural activities and an additional 7-14% through land use changes. Finally, it consumes about 70% of the planet’s fresh water and approximately 80% of all threatened terrestiral bird and mammal species are imperiled by agriculturally driven habitat loss.[1]

However, sustainable agricultural practices can contribute to a more efficient use of resources and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities on the planet, while increasing productivity to meet an increasing food demand of humanity.

At Incofin, we partner with producer organisations and small and medium agricultural enterprises that implement social and environmental good practices to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries. We aim to contribute to the development of a fair and sustainable agricultural sector, but also to address the financial needs of smallholder farmers by providing better access to capital and to sustainable markets, while providing a fair return to investors.

In addition to our investments, Incofin also develops and manages, in partnership with the client, projects to strengthen sustainability practices. These technical assistance (TA) projects enable to explore innovative agricultural practices, to expand organic production and to develop circular economy models within organisations to make a more efficient use of resources when producing food.

Cooperativa Cafetalera ”Capucas” Limitada (COCAFCAL), Honduras

Coffee production

907 smallholder producers

Period TA-project: 2016-2018

Removing the coffee bean from the cherry through the process of wet milling generates a significant amount of wastewater and coffee pulp. Typically, these byproducts go unused. Under the worst circumstances, wastewater is discharged into nearby rivers and coffee pulp is left in fields to rot. Incofin’s TA helped Capucas design a system whereby 100% of the water and pulp generated by the wet mill is used to create organic fertilizers for members, creating a closed-loop production system that reduces impact on the local environment.

Impact achieved:

  • 22,000 liters of water reused in 2018
  • 200,000 kilos of coffee pulp reused
  • 5,300 smallholder farmers using organic fertilizers.

 

COOPFAM, Brazil

Organic coffee production

TA-project: ongoing since 2019

To improve the performance of organic plantations and maintain the minimum quality required by the buyers, it is key to ensure the good quality of seedlings. The production of healthy and well-developed seedlings is an extremely important factor for any crop and especially for those of perennial character, such as coffee. COOPFAM members used to buy seedlings from external suppliers which was costly and not entirely suitable for organic agriculture since the trees were mixed with conventional types. Through a TA project, COOPFAM has been establishing nurseries where the farmers produce seedlings and which, through economies of scale, will generate the best socio-economic benefits for them and for the cooperative.  

Impact achieved so far:

  • Increase of certified organic members from 120 to 167 in 2020
  • 7 technical facilitators trained to provide high quality advice on the cultivation of organic coffee trees, incl. production of organic compost
  • 176 producers trained in the production of organic coffee seedlings
  • 23 nurseries for organic seedlings established with more than 150.000 organic seedlings produced and planted in the farmers’ plots 

 

[1] https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c49f1a94-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/c49f1a94-en