Enhancing Sustainable and Resilient Livelihoods for Female Coffee Producers in Son La

The SURE project will span over the course of 36 months and will be carried out in 4 communes located in Thuan Chau and Mai Son districts of Son La province. Its main objective is to provide support for over 2,000 individuals residing in these communes, enabling them to engage in a wide range of livelihood adaptive activities, particularly those influenced by climate change.

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CARE in Vietnam and the Son La Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) launched SURE – Sustainable and Resilient Livelihoods for Women Coffee Producers in Son La province on March 21.

Funded by The Starbucks Foundation, SURE will be implemented over a 36-month period in four communes in Thuan Chau and Mai Son districts.

At the launching ceremony. Photo: CARE in Vietnam

Arabica coffee is a key cash crop for poverty reduction in the northwest region of Vietnam. Mai Son and Thuan Chau districts currently have the largest coffee cultivation areas in the province, accounting for approximately 20,700 hectares of arabica coffee according to 2023 data. However, farmers’ productivity and income have been directly impacted by natural conditions such as rising temperatures, irregular rainfall, and extreme weather events.

Son La province has a population consisting of 85% ethnic minorities who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to poverty and marginalization. Women in these communities face additional challenges as they have limited access to knowledge, capital, social networks, and decision-making power to cope with climate change impacts. Furthermore, their time availability is constrained by unpaid care work, hindering their ability to improve their skills and seek diverse sources of income. Despite these barriers, women play a significant role in climate change adaptation due to their involvement in agriculture and caregiving responsibilities.

In order to enhance community resilience and involve ethnic minority women in finding solutions, livelihood diversification is essential for coffee-growing communities in Son La province. Over the course of three years, the SURE project aims to reach and enhance the economic empowerment of 1,500 ethnic minority women coffee farmers in the districts of Son La province by increasing their climate-resilient livelihood diversification.

SURE will introduce interventions based on CARE’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework, promoting women’s decision-making power and equal access to economic resources, assets, and opportunities. Long-term changes in social norms and economic structures that benefit women and men equally will also be pursued. According to Le Xuan Hieu, Rural Program Manager at CARE in Vietnam, SURE will provide resource and technical support to improve women’s farming scale, access to markets, and introduce climate change adaptation solutions to build sustainable livelihood activities. The project aims not only to improve farming practices but also to empower women to have agency within their living environment.

SURE’s interventions align with Son La’s agriculture priorities, focusing on building specialized production areas and implementing climate change adaptation practices. Cam Thi Phong, Vice Director of Son La DARD, emphasized the province’s proactive approach to climate change adaptation in agriculture. Son La is aware of the impact of climate change on agricultural production and is taking strategic actions to advocate for best practices and introduce appropriate adaptation solutions to farmers. Phong added that integrating and developing agricultural production in various fields requires different approaches, and SURE will contribute to improving local farmers’ capacity to be climate-resilient.