PGE Generations Research Initiative

 According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) (2015)[1], the average age of coffee farmers in Africa is sixty. The average age of coffee farmers in Kenya in particular is 51, a pattern that remains the same in many other coffee producing countries. Bezu and Holden (2014)[2]found that only 9% of Ethiopian youth are planning to work in the agricultural sector in the future. These are startling facts for an industry that is experiencing strong and sustained growth in demand, and they require us to begin asking important questions.

·     What are the generational dynamics and issues that discourage youth from wanting to stay in coffee as a long-term, viable career path? 

·     How are new or existing programs in the value chain encouraging young people to remain active in coffee? 

·     How can everyone in the value chain, older generations and younger, men and women, end market and cooperatives, support youth to build a future in coffee that’s right for them?

These are just a few of the questions that PGE and its partners are exploring in a new research initiative about generational dynamics in the coffee sector and their impact on youth out-migration from coffee communities—in order to develop applicable and practical actions that will allow the coffee industry to respond and impact the future of the value chain.

We are grateful to our current partners - and invite you to join this important initiative!


This new research effort builds on the process and structure of PGE’s first report, “The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in the Coffee Value Chain,” a well-regarded industry resource. PGE recently completed the first step of its Generations research, a comprehensive literature review about the generational dynamics linked to youth disengagement from coffee production. During this stage of research, PGE consulted existing reports and research on the issue from a variety of industry, development, and academic sources. 

Beyond the completed literature review, we will carry out the following steps:

·       Conduct participatory workshops utilizing an adapted Gender Action Learning System (GALS) methodology in six coffee producing regions/communities.

·       Conduct focus groups with participants from each of the workshops to further investigate the findings from the literature review and inform recommendations.

·       Perform a current practice review at the public, private, and civil society level to better understand existing programs engaging youth and suggest recommendations and improvements. PGE will analyze certain policies, institutions, and programs.

·       Assess the applicability of recommendations that come out the primary and secondary research by interviewing industry leaders and investors; confirm the degree to which the recommendations are immediately actionable and achievable from the point of view of industry.

·       Publish a final report of findings and recommendations by Fall 2019.

Importantly, this active learning process allows us to inform our research in an inclusive way, while simultaneously beginning to take action to address the challenge.


[1]ICO (2015) Sustainability in the coffee sector in Africa. Milan [online] Available at: http://www.ico.org/documents/cy2014-15/icc-114-5-r1e-overview-coffee-sector-africa.pdf

[2]Bezu, S., and Holden, S. (2014) Are rural youth in Ethiopia abandoning agriculture? In World Development Vol 64, pp 259-272 [online] Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worddev.2014.06.013.