Coffee farmers’ motivations to comply with sustainability standards

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4 September 2019

Purpose: to investigate the incentives to coffee farmers to participate in certification schemes that require improved agricultural practices.Design/methodology: we ran a choice experiment among 250 Brazilian coffee farmers in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.Findings: Our findings show that both cash and non-cash payments are likely to incentive farmers’ participation in a certification scheme. Besides price premium, incentives as long-term contracts and provision of technical would encourage producers to adopt eco-certification schemes. Our results also suggest that non-cash payments may be appropriate substitutes to a price premium to some extent.Research limitations: the large coffee producers are over-represented in our sample compared to the population of Brazilian coffee farms. However, it seems reasonable to focus on these producers, as they are usually the ones who individually adopt strategies, since small farmers are induced by collective strategies (e.g., cooperatives).Practical Implications: the fact that farmers place a high value on non-cash rewards suggests that designing effective certification schemes is an important consideration for organizations that develop sustainability standards, and that public (re)intervention through technical assistance may become necessary when the market is unable to provide a price premium high enough to offset the compliance costs associated with the most stringent environmental requirements.Originality/value: we contributed in the literature about adoption of sustainable agriculture practices analyzing the requirements and motivations for farmer participation in certification schemes. We also contribute private and public strategies to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.