Promoting an Integrated Approach to Climate Adaptation: Lessons from the coffee value chain in Uganda

By Julie Dekens, F. Bagamba on March 17, 2014

Relatively little has been done to date to support climate adaptation along entire value chains.

Yet to secure sustainable investments in value chain development, decision-makers at all levels in the public and private sectors need to ensure that climate risks are managed not just at the production level, but also throughout the entire value chain, from production to marketing. This is particularly relevant for commodity-dependent developing countries, such as Uganda.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development collaborated with the Uganda Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Makerere University and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network during a six-month period in 2013 to provide a platform for dialogue on climate risk management among actors along the coffee value chain. This innovative new pilot initiative demonstrates how to take a more integrated approach to climate adaptation.

The analysis of climate impacts and responses along the value chain was based on a qualitative and participatory approach using Climate Dialogue Theatres—a method that uses drama to elucidate value chain actor perceptions of climate impacts and responses, and to promote adult learning on climate adaptation. The process mobilized a total of 80 participants representing farm input suppliers, coffee farmers, traders, processors, exporters and service providers from Rakai district (southwest) and Kampala.

The initiative shows that climate hazards such as droughts, floods and changing rainfall patterns already negatively affect all actors along the coffee value chain, but in different ways and to different extents. Coffee farmers and processors generally tend to be more vulnerable to climate hazards than traders, middlemen and exporters, due to their limited diversification, weak organizational capacities and the unfavourable policy environment. Most actors are already making some efforts to minimize the negative impacts of climate hazards on their activities, but not all responses are sustainable. The study also provides evidence that a lack of communication and trust between and among actors along the value chain particularly hampers climate adaptation.

The study recommends three win-win solutions along the coffee value chain: to improve networking and partnerships among key actors for climate adaptation by strengthening existing platforms and structures at all levels and exploring the role of incentives (e.g., standards); to develop new, flexible financial products to support climate-resilient and inclusive agro-value chains through capacity building and innovative public-private partnerships; and to increase investments in climate-resilient infrastructures such as roads, irrigation systems, storage facilities and telecommunications.