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The Managing Director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, Sustainability Director at JDE Peet’s, Ms. Nadia Hoarau-Mwaura, and Chief Executive Officer of Enveritas, Mr. David Browning, announced last week that the UCDA, JDE Peet’s, and Enveritas have entered into an agreement to implement a scheme that will enable Enveritas to verify that the coffee industry in Uganda does not export coffee grown on land deforested after 2020, as required by the new European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

This regulation, which impacts this year's coffee harvests, is designed to ensure that European citizens are not contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss through the products that they buy and consume. As a result of signing this agreement the parties will take joint action to remediate coffee which infringes the regulation, allowing Uganda to have its entire coffee production area, grown by close to two million producers, assessed as being deforestation-free using Enveritas’ territorial approach.

In addition, through this landmark agreement, JDE Peet’s will support the rehabilitation of land deforested and converted to coffee after 2020. Ms Hoarau-Mwaura said, “Uganda is a key coffee origin for JDE Peet’s and we are proud to partner with UCDA and Enveritas to preserve access to this coffee for our consumers. While EU consumers are rightly concerned that their consumption habits may contribute to climate change and environmental degradation, it is vital that action to mitigate this risk takes into account the social implications of hurting coffee farmer livelihoods. This agreement addresses both environmental and social concerns.”

Enveritas’ territorial approach involves a technologically sophisticated process to monitor all of Uganda’s coffee growing region through a combination of high-resolution satellite imagery, machine learning, and teams on the ground. A protocol developed by UCDA will ensure that any coffee which is found to be in contravention of the new regulation is removed from the supply chain.

Once removed, JDE Peet’s will work with the farmers to reforest the land. This innovative and inclusive JDE Peet’s Enveritas countrywide solution, supported by the EU’s concept of declaration in excess, allows coffee producing land, at a vast scale, to be assessed as deforestation free, delivering on the climate journey while protecting smallholder farmers.

Dr. Iyamulemye said, “We have been monitoring closely the requirements of the EU and realized that Uganda would need to develop an innovative approach. Uganda is home to nearly two million coffee producers, the second largest population of coffee producers in the world. Traditional approaches to farm traceability might work for some of our producers, but we needed a solution at a national level or the bulk of Ugandan coffee producers might be denied access to the EU market during the 2024 harvest. This partnership allows us to take concrete action to address EU concerns regarding the deforestation caused by coffee, while also ensuring that smallholder farmers do not have their livelihoods put at risk."

    Coffee-growing area of Uganda (pink). Base image courtesy NASA; crop detection overlay copyright Enveritas.

    Mr. Browning said, “We are excited to partner with UCDA and JDE Peet’s on this landmark agreement. A typical Ugandan coffee farmer has less than half a hectare of coffee, and might earn only a few hundred dollars a year in coffee income. Very few Ugandan coffee farmers deforest their land to plant coffee, but how could this be validated? This partnership is a great example of how technology can be used for good. Rather than attempting to individually knock on the door of millions of farmers at enormous expense, machine learning can pinpoint exactly where the issues exist to allow the Ugandan government to address EU concerns."

    Enveritas is a non-profit organization that works worldwide to support the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers through encouraging the responsible sourcing of coffee.

    JDE Peet’s is the largest roaster of coffee in the European Union, serving millions of consumers annually.