Jun 11, 2021

Final ELE Report of Low-Carbon Coffee NAMA in Costa Rica is Now Available

A farmer participating in the Costa Rican NAMA Support Project "Low-Carbon Coffee NAMA." Photo Copyright: GIZ Costa Rica / Estudio CLAN

The NAMA Facility supports NAMA Support Projects (NSPs) that effect sector-wide shifts toward sustainable, irreversible, carbon-neutral pathways in developing countries and emerging economies. All NSPs in implementation are subject to a mid-term and to a final evaluation and learning exercise (ELE). These ELEs are part of the NAMA Facility’s working approach to catalyse transformational change through incremental monitoring processes that allow fearless learning. 

The NAMA Facility commissioned AMBERO and Oxford Policy Management to conduct the ELEs. The exercise is based on a theoretical framework, which involves a document review, participatory workshops, and stakeholder interviews to collect evidence about NSPs’ results and lessons. It is analysed using a theory-based approach centered on the use of contribution analysis reinforced by elements of process tracing. The ELEs seek to address the following questions:  

- Has the NSP achieved its results? 

- Has the NSP started to trigger transformational change? 

- What was learnt from the NSP so far? 

The Costa Rican NAMA Support Project "Low-Carbon Coffee NAMA” works to catalyze a climate-friendly transformation of the entire value chain of the national coffee sector.  

Between June and October 2020, AMBERO and Oxford Policy Management undertook a final evaluation and learning exercise (ELE) on Costa Rica Coffee’s progress thus far. The exercise asked if the NSP has achieved its results, whether it has started to trigger transformational change, and what learnings the NAMA Facility and the broader climate community might glean from the NSP’s work. 

Some of the ELE’s main findings include: 

  • The NSP has demonstrated that climate change mitigation activities can lead to increased cost efficiencies and reduced production costs at coffee farms and mills. This synergy between the business interests of the target group (coffee farms and mills), and the climate objectives both of the Costa Rican government and the NAMA Facility speaks to the success of the project model. 

  • The NSP exceeded its target of reaching 6,000 coffee producers. An additional 1,536 producers are now applying at least two of the promoted low-emission technologies and practices. Moreover, 40 out of 50 targeted coffee mills are applying at least two technologies that reduce GHG emissions (such as enhanced drying patios or technologies with increased energy efficiency).  

  • The NSP further contributed to this climate-friendly way of working by successfully raising awareness of the need for data collection and monitoring, and to support implementation among coffee farms and mills. 

  • The financial component has not been as successful as anticipated. The NSP planned three financial interventions: a credit line for privately and cooperative-like organised mills and farmer organisations, a subsidy scheme for investments in efficient technologies for mills, and an incentive mechanism for farmers to plant shade trees. However, due to strict requirements and bureaucratic structures of financial institutions and the rather unattractive financial conditions of the credit scheme developed, no credit was dispersed by the credit line. By the time that funds were finally available, other sources of financing with better conditions and less bureaucracy were available on the market. 

  • The NSP received positive feedback from target groups on the support it provided. Support on training, inventories, coffee shade trees, reforestation, micro mills, and the treatment of wastewater were cited. 

The evaluators of the ELE derived lessons learnt and accompanying recommendations for future NSPs in smallholder agriculture along the following themes: 

  • The NSP design. The ELE recommends that, for future NSPs, indicators should be SMART. Moreover, sufficient indicators should be developed for the specific context. Two to three well-defined indicators per output deliver a solid base for monitoring and evaluation 

  • Financial interventions in the coffee sector. Coffee farmers and millers do not have the necessary collateral required by commercial banks, and their financial literacy and trust in banks may be low (particularly for smallholder farmers who may already face the risk of collecting debt). It is therefore recommended for  financial products to be timed according to production cycles (when funds are needed throughout the year), to build on existing structures such as credits received through global coffee traders and/or roasters, and to collaborate with banks or other financial service providers (civil society) with whom business relationships have already been established. 

  • Framing the narrative. For farmers, climate change adaptation tends to be more relevant and important than mitigation. They are negatively affected by rising temperatures, or changes in rainfall. Farmers may be more open to an adaptation perspective rather than a mitigation perspective- The work of the NSP should align to the objectives and needs of the coffee farms and mills. 

  • Timescales of the NSP. In agricultural, and particularly smallholder settings, the changes and results anticipated in an NSP’s design often take more time to materialize. The ELE recommends that the NAMA Facility is realistic in its expectations. 

Following the main findings and recommendations of the ELE, the TSU has compiled a management response to address the key points that were raised. 

The full Costa Rica Low Carbon Coffee ELE report is available here.  

The management response is available here.