Photo: Coffee farmer harvesting coffee cherry. Credit @ Somka-ne Emawat

Photo: Coffee farmer harvesting coffee cherry. Credit @ Somka-ne Emawat

Through robust dialogue and collaboration with a diverse group of influential stakeholders, backed by actionable research developed by Verité, the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Cooperation On Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) Project created, refined, and finalized a set of 17 tools compromising the Socially Sustainable Sourcing Toolkit (S3T) that respond to the needs of key coffee sector stakeholders.

As one of the 17 tools, Verité developed an interactive Risk Evaluation for Action in the Coffee Trade (RE-ACT) dashboard. This interactive, dynamic dashboard highlights labor risks in coffee-producing countries, the global coffee trade, and existing and emerging legislation that holds companies accountable for human and labor rights violations in their supply chains. The dashboard also promotes shared responsibility for producing and consuming countries to address these vexing labor challenges. Verité has opted to provide companies with actionable data on specific risk factors and their root causes in coffee-producing countries so that they can work proactively with other stakeholders to address issues in their sourcing footprints.

The RE-ACT dashboard is the product of months of research on labor rights vulnerabilities in the coffee sectors across the 17 largest coffee-producing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Verité also developed eight open-source, interactive, online training modules on labor issues in the Latin American coffee sector in English and Spanish. All online training modules are available on the RISE platform, and links to the modules are listed on the COFFEE Project webpage.

Finally, Verité developed and began implementing pilot projects in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico to field test and refine the S3T tools. Pilot projects were developed through research and stakeholder consultation and involved piloting tools and sustainable and scalable approaches to reducing labor risks.

In Brazil, Verité carried out a project to better understand and respond to the issues identified in the Brazilian coffee sector’s recruitment and labor sourcing practices. Verité researched this issue to strengthen stakeholders’ ability to uncover and target root causes. Project activities also included developing and piloting recruitment-related tools and innovative, responsible recruitment approaches.

The Colombia pilot project sought to promote fair wages and working conditions for farmworkers in the Colombian coffee sector by developing and piloting alternatives to the widely used piece-rate payment system. Verité, in partnership with other leading research institutions, continues to research best harvesting practices in Colombia, including an independent and thorough assessment of alternative payment models’ social and economic effects on workers and coffee farmers.

Verité is also piloting a training curriculum in Mexico to increase the capacity of stakeholders in coffee supply chains to identify, address, and prevent forced labor. This program focuses on building the capacity of agronomists, field technicians, certification and monitoring bodies, civil society organizations, and government institutions. The curriculum comprises 12 self-paced online training modules covering international standards, Mexican labor legislation, identification of forced labor and its indicators, child labor, recruitment, conditions of work, practical skills for detecting labor risks in the field, and root cause analysis and programming.

Verité also mapped out key government and civil society institutions active on labor issues in the Mexican coffee sector and evaluated the level of these institutions’ interest, influence, and involvement with coffee farms.