University of Vermont

Community Participatory Action Research Network

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Project Profile

Participatory Research to Support Farmer Livelihoods and Ecosystem Services Conservation in the Pico Duarte Coffee Region of the Dominican Republic

Academic Partner

Lee Gross
M.S. Student
Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources
Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
University of Vermont
Primarily funded by the Conservation and Research Foundation, Shelburne, VT

Community Partner

Coffee farmer households, Pico Duarte Region, Dominican Republic

La Asociación de Caficultores Jarabacoa (ASCAJA)

Research Objective(s)

  • Document and analyze the livelihood strategies of small to medium-sized coffee farmers in the region.
  • Engage in a participatory process with local farmers to examine existing organizational models in order to better support farmers’ identified needs.
  • Analyze the relationship between ecosystem services conservation and farmer livelihoods.

Research Process

This yearlong project utilized an interdisciplinary research framework to better understand the interactions between social and ecological processes that contribute to the livelihoods of coffee farmer households of the Pico Duarte region.
The study used a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach, which seeks to directly improve the livelihoods and agricultural management of rural communities. This approach integrated the goals of the local farmers association, University researchers and a Vermont company purchasing coffee from the area.

Baseline information, collected through participatory community focus groups, household interviews, and ecological sampling, characterized the coffee farms and is necessary to better understand livelihood strategies, vulnerability, and perceived needs in relation to agroecological management. The focus groups facilitated shared decision making and were key in identifying these community needs and goals.

Results and Impact on Community

This project provided technical support for the coffee producers, helped them improve the organization of their coffee association, and established baseline information on social and ecological variables to be used in long term monitoring. It also connected a Vermont coffee company with the farmers, enabling them to generate new markets for their products, increase their income and diversify their livelihoods through access to price premiums for bird-friendly, shade and organic coffees.

The partnership secured long-term commitment to the communities, by way of a formal memorandum of understanding between Farm Alta Gracia and the University of Vermont, for research and technical assistance in agricultural and educational exchange projects. In addition, it informed international donor and multi-lateral agencies on development investment decisions to support small to medium size producers and will produce peer-reviewed publications on Dominican coffee farmer livelihoods and ecosystem services conservation.

Last modified May 26 2010 11:01 AM

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