• What are the salient human rights risks, and their root causes, in the up-stream segments (from production to export) of the value chain of coffee produced in Uganda and distributed to end-consumers in Belgium?
  • How does the implementation of human rights due diligence and in par-ticular stakeholder engagement impact both the SME and the stakehold-ers?
  • What are barriers and conditions for human rights due diligence, and in particular stakeholder engagement, to be a participatory, empowering and effective tool to address sustainability and human rights issues?
The coffee value chain remains characterizes by important social, labour and environmental issues. There is a clear increase in awareness of these issues and the coffee industry has been a leader in applying sustainability initiatives such as certification and verification systems. However, many root causes remain unaddressed. A possible approach to address the ex-ternalization of key social and environmental costs is proper human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD), as put forward by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD’s Guide-lines for MNEs. Centered on the coffee value chain that starts at the Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU) in South Western Uganda and leads to the fair trade retailer, Oxfam Fair Trade in Belgium, this study will map and assess current salient human rights risk in close engagement with stakeholders. The study aims to improve
  • understanding of the key salient human rights risks and their root causes in the Ugandan coffee value chains, as experienced by stakeholders and rights holders; as well as
  • the understanding of the barriers and conditions for human rights due diligence (HREDD) to be a participatory and empowering tool to address sustainability and human rights issues. It will reflect on the impact of im-plementing HREDD both for the company as well as for the rights holders.
  • Voluntary sustainability certification schemes
  • Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive
  • UN Guiding principles on Business and human rights
  • OECD Guidelines on responsible business conduct and OECD Guid-ance on Due Diligence
  • Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive
The coffee supply chain is characterized by extreme inequality in terms of power and risks between the producers (small scale farmers) on the one side, and the processing and retail industry on the other side.
The study uses a mixed-method approach. The largest part of the study is conducted with a qualitative focus and complemented with a minor quantitative approach. The key methods that guide this case-study in-clude: Desk research, Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and targeted Fo-cus Group Discussions (FGDs) in combination with field observations.
Primary data collection will be based on a participatory approach. Re-searchers will visit the identified coffee growing areas to conduct inter-views/focus group discussions with the different categories of stakehold-ers (at least 6 categories). Individual interviews will be conducted with experts at regional and national level. Focus group discussions will be or-ganised in the local Runyankole language and led by a female national consultant who originates from the same region as the stakeholders. Qualitative data will comprise of audio-taped, transcribed and translated interviews and field notes. The obtained data will be analysed using the-matic analysis. The analysis will be conducted on the basis of deductive and inductive themes. Topics to address include:
  • Value chain map with processing steps and labor allocation for relevant processing method.
  • Stakeholder map and interpretation of power dynamics and gender aspects surrounding FT cooperative.
  • Context analysis considering political, environmental, social, legal, technological factors.
  • Identification of policy impacts and ongoing transformations in the coffee value chain.
  • Ranking of all salient human rights issues per stakeholder category and attribution assessment of OFT operations to risks, with a strong emphasis on rights holders views and taking a gender lens
  • Observations related to the conditions, barriers and effects of meaningful stakeholder engagement as part of HREDD on stake-holders and the company.
Following the analysis of data, a validation phase follows in which internal preliminary findings are synthesized and triangulated through follow up calls with the earlier interviewed key informants. Debriefing sessions will be planned (through the most appropriate channel) for the regional and national stakeholders.
The case study will contribute to a better understanding of the potential and the risks of a human rights and environmental due diligence ap-proach for SMEs and the different parts of their value chain. A better understanding of the potential and the risks can inform ongoing policy processes designing a mandatory human and environmental due diligence at national and European level, as well as processes designing and introducing due diligence at company level. It can also build capacity amongst different value chain actors on due diligence and how to engage with it.

Case Study Leader

Oxfam België/Belgique

Local Partner(s)

Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU)
Oxfam Fair Trade

SDG's Addressed


Geographical Focus and Scale


Product and market focus

The production of coffee.

Key stakeholders

Research design: medium-sized fair trade company developing its human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) policy and practice, ex-perts on HREDD and stakeholder engagement, coffee cooperative in-volved in the value chain. Research level and data gathering: SME, farmers, cooperatives of coffee farmers, other chain actors (including in transformation and policy envi-ronment), research institutions involved in complementary research. Sharing outputs: 1) value chain rights holders and stakeholders; 2) other companies; 3) fair trade movement; 4) consumers and the wider audi-ence.