Hamro Coffee: inclusion for farmers in Nepal

This project aims to improve opportunities for small-scale coffee farmers with disabilities in Nepal to supply to local or global markets.

Coffee farmer Sasmita crouches down to tend to her crops.

About the project

Globally, employment rates for men with disabilities (53%) and women with disabilities (20%) are lower than for non-disabled men (65%) and women (30%).

Most of the 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world are of working age, yet less than a third are in employment. But by excluding people with disabilities from the labour market, countries can lose as much as 7% of their national gross domestic product.

In the past few years, the Nepalese coffee market is resurgent, driven by a boom in domestic and international demand. This presents a perfect chance to build opportunities for farmers with disabilities and their families within a robust and growing value chain. It can also challenge the deep-rooted stereotypes in Nepal that people with disabilities will reduce efficiency in the workplace and farming.

Based on learning from the Hamro Coffee project, a pilot under FCDO’s Disability Inclusive Development (DID) initiative is being implemented in two districts of Nepal. It aims to improve opportunities for small-scale coffee farmers with disabilities to supply to local or global markets, ranging from local cafes to formal global value chains. We’re helping organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) and coffee value chains to test innovative ways of improving the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Learn more about how people with disabilities and their organisations, and coffee value chain actors are co-creating solutions to make Nepali coffee more inclusive on the Inclusive Coffee Journeys website.

At a glance

  • Where: Nepal
  • When: December 2019-March 2023
  • Partners: Light for the World, CORDAID, National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN)

Watch the video to hear from coffee educator and trainer Raj Kumar Banjara.

What the project has achieved

Jobs for people with disabilities

In total, 132 people with disabilities have been engaged in the coffee value chain. This includes 37 female farmers and 51 male farmers in Kavre and Sindhupalchok, and four female and 12 male barista trainees who found work (the first and second cohorts of trainees).

Improved earnings and employment rate

Four coffee nursery owners have reported improved earnings, and the employment rate of the baristas (84%) is far higher than estimated (60%). This shows the opportunities that still exist, and the impact of support from the National Coffee Academy (NCA) and coffee networks.

Farmers given high-grade saplings

The 88 farmers have been provided with 23,660 saplings, which will produce high-grade coffee every year once they are mature. Despite the difficult first year, where winter survival rates of plants are much lower, farmers have maintained 75% of the saplings and will harvest their first coffee in 2023.

Better accessibility in the coffee chain

Of the 88 farmers who took part in the project, 39 were given assistive devices to support their ability to farm. Financial support was also provided to 13 cafes, training centres and pulping stations to make them more accessible to customers, trainees and staff with disabilities.

Improved capacity to sustain the project

NFDN has helped to improve capacity among OPDs to sustain the impact of the project. OPD members have been trained on rights, livelihood and advocacy, as well as how to carry out accessibility audits and advise the government and business owners about improved accessibility.

Inclusion for people with disabilities

As a result of advocacy by NFDN and training from CORDAID, 11 local farming cooperatives or groups are now actively including people with disabilities in their organisations. This is a major step to making the coffee value chain accessible for farmers with disabilities.

Nilan from Nepal prepares a pot of coffee as part of his work in Pauline's Garden cafe.

Milan’s story

Nilan from Nepal prepares a pot of coffee as part of his work in Pauline's Garden cafe.

Milan was one of 11 participants in the first cohort of barista training organised for deaf participants. The 25-year-old now works as a head barista at Pauline's Garden café in Kathmandu, earning NPR19,000 (US$140) a month.

Pauline’s Garden proprietor Biken Shrestha says initially he was hesitant about working with deaf staff members, and worried about miscommunication with customers. “But I can communicate just fine with him. We have all learnt a little sign language, and we use gestures, expressions to get the message across.”

Within a year, Milan has become a trusted member of the team, and wants to gain more experience so he can progress to working in bigger hotels and eventually open his own café. Biken looks forward to creating more opportunities for people with disabilities. He adds: “Anyone who has the skills and the right attitude, regardless of their disabilities, will be welcome to work in Pauline’s.”

What our partners say

“Making work more accessible for people with disabilities, and making employers aware of their obligations, is critical for a more equal society in Nepal.”

Parbata Sharma
Project coordinator, NFDN

“I was really happy to see the positive change for young people with disabilities. This project has done much to demonstrate how to put inclusion into practice.”

Tek Bhat

Sasmita’s story