Participatory planning and investment in climate-smart agriculture in Central American coffee landscapes

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Project description

Central American coffee production areas will be affected greatly by progressive climate change. The livelihoods of many smallholders in these landscapes are threatened because they largely depend on coffee production. Adaptation measures are therefore needed to build resilience and ensure food security in these rural areas and thus several countries have prioritized coffee landscapes as particularly important elements within their national adaptation strategies. Local adaptation strategies and investment plans will complement these national-level efforts in the implementation and adoption of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices at the subnational level. This project stimulated partnerships between farmer cooperatives and professionals from public, private and civil society spheres and coupled participatory adaptation planning with the development of incentive and investment plans. It aimed to establish a virtuous cycle of investment and adoption of cost-effective climate smart agriculture (CSA) practices in coffee landscapes.

The approach was tested in collaboration with the farmer co-operatives ASOBAGRI in Huehuetenango Guatemala and the PROODECOP in the dry corridor of Nicaragua.

To better understand how to stimulate CSA investment and adoption the project developed four lines of action: 


By 2018, the expected project outcomes will include having:

  • Cooperatives, other than PROODECOP and ASOBAGRI, as well as new players in the value chain, will use tools to prioritize and develop implementation and investment plans for CSA practices
  • Governmental organizations, farmer cooperatives, private companies, financial institutions and certification organizations learn from the Hivos and CEDECO networks about project results and use the tools developed.
  • Multilateral organizations like Consejo Agropecuario Centroamericano (CAC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will use the generated results to invest in CSA solutions for coffee landscapes.
  • Preferred policy options for supporting CSA adoption by coffee producers will be discussed in different governmental agencies in Guatemala and Nicaragua.



  • Diagnosis of policy and institutional frameworks, incentives and disincentives for CSA adoption in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
  • Policy analysis on different options that can support CSA adoption.
  • Conceptual framework to prioritize CSA options by context.
  • On farm trials to evaluate and rank CSA practices.
  • Number of improved stress-tolerant crops with market potential identified and used.
  • Investment plans for prioritized CSA portfolio in one pilot area in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
  • Innovative financial model developed for the coffee sector
  • Monitoring and evaluation protocols of farmer cooperatives strengthened to include indicators for CSA adoption and livelihood impacts.
  • Fact sheets and manuals on evaluated CSA practices.
  • Online portal developed with site-specific crop, tree and CSA practice recommendations for different scenarios.


A multi-disciplinary research and development team carried out the activities. The team consisted of the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group of the University of Vermont, the Corporación Educativa para el Desarrollo Costarricense, which has 30 years of experience in assisting coffee farmer cooperatives; Hivos, leading development organization in social innovation and green entrepreneurship; and The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF),which contributed with its expertise in tree management on farms; and Bioversity International, which lead the consortium and is expert in local vulnerability assessments and use of agricultural diversity to build resilient landscapes.


Women and young farmers were targeted for inclusion in on-farm experiments. The combined information generated from these efforts allowed the project partners to develop knowledge transfer products that help farmer cooperatives and local governments to 1) fill identified knowledge gaps among men and women; and 2) to tailor those products to reach both women and men members of farmer families and people from different age and educational backgrounds.


Estelí, Madriz and Nueva Segovia Provinces (Nicaragua) and Huehuetenango Province (Guatemala)

Further information

For further information, please contact the Project leader, Maarten Van Zonneveld (Bioversity) at