Building an environmentally and economically sustainable coffee industry will help the farmers with cost savings, higher coffee yields, income diversification, capital building and competitiveness in low-carbon markets. The labor-intensive coffee harvest employs an estimated 150,000 workers whose families will continue to benefit from the proceeds of a healthy coffee market.
Policy changes proposed in the NAMA further support adoption of the new production techniques and pave the way for a certified carbon neutral coffee trademark that would ensure Costa Rica a prominent place in international carbon-neutral markets. In the medium to long term it is expected that overall in the sector increased revenues and profitability from coffee growing and processing will lead to stabilizing the coffee growing activity in an economically feasible and environmentally resilient manner, while allowing the coffee growing family to visualize a future in this agricultural activity. Thus, a coffee area of up to 93,000 ha would remain on the path to a "competitive eco-agriculture", reducing the risk of imminent abandonment of coffee plantations, which otherwise would result in a land-use change – in the worst case for livestock grazing.
At the same time, the NAMA will contribute to maintain the level of employment (up to 150,000 jobs during harvest) and strengthen the sector's economic activity, which actually makes up 9.2% of national exports impacting in the standard of living of more than 400,000 people.
The NAMA Café will improve the capacities of relevant Costa Rican stakeholders to design, finance, implement and monitor NAMAs (in the coffee sector in specific and in general), and it will improve the political framework for inducing environmentally and climate-friendly economic practices. In addition to the direct benefits on the institutional and political level, the project will contribute to low-emission institutional development.
Co-benefits will include more sustainable energy consumption in milling, increased soil conservation and biodiversity, improve adaptation of coffee production to climate change, through spread of agro-forestry systems, increased soil fertility and less vulnerable soils. Moreover, a reduction of eutrophication through improved wastewater management and reduced fertilizer use will be achieved.
Especially the use of shade trees in coffee plantations has important environmental and adaptation benefits in addition to carbon sequestration and reducing the need for fertilizer inputs. Shade trees reduce soil erosion, conserve soil fertility and safeguard animal and plant biodiversity (e.g. of birds and butterflies). They may also offer additional income to farmers through fruit and firewood production and, in most cases, have the potential to increase coffee quality. Agroforestry systems and planting of boundary trees are activities with the high synergies between adaptation and mitigation.
The project also aims at reducing fertilizer input and respectively increasing efficiency of fertilizer use, which will lower water pollution through excess fertilizer. Increasing fertilizer efficiency should also lower production costs for farmers; however, there is a need for additional research into the trade-off between cost savings through decreased input costs and higher costs for increased labor input related to precision agriculture approaches.
The contributions to sustainable socio-economic, ecological and institutional development go beyond the reduction of GHG emissions. Sustainable development benefits are considered a key element to create country ownership and a driver for transformational change and thus can have an important impact on the long-term sustainability of a NAMA. Although there is a relatively high awareness of the need for climate change mitigation in Costa Rica, ultimately, it will be the project’s ability to lead to key (socio-economic) benefits such as higher farm incomes which will determine its long-term sustainability. Some of these benefits are listed below: