Wake up, smell the coffee and play the game

Background documentation: Introduction to the Lao coffee sector

Wake up – The Lao Coffee Game is a learning game for students aged 17–23 (secondary/high school or Bachelor’s level). It allows students to study the Lao coffee sector and explore the interaction dynamics between different sustainability dimensions.

Exploring the sector

Coffee is an agricultural commodity with a global value chain linking local production systems in the global South with trading and consumption patterns in the global North. Export-oriented agricultural commodities such as this are high on the policy agenda of low-income countries to stimulate rural development and reduce poverty. However, the risks of commercial agriculture are not shared equally, and not everyone can benefit from the economic opportunities to the same extent.

Creating lasting knowledge

Playing the game, students gain insights into the dynamics of the Lao coffee sector and engage with various stakeholders and their rationales, strategies, and agency. Being confronted with a variety of events and their potential consequences, the students explore the risks and opportunities of export-based agriculture and gain a perspective on who wins and who loses. Throughout the game, the students explore pathways towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, learning along the way that the issues involved are multi-dimensional, complex, and sometimes contradictory.

Learning trajectories

To fully benefit from this learning experience, students should familiarize themselves with the subject matter before playing the game. The document called “Introduction to the Lao Coffee Sector” sheds light on different dimensions of the value chain, such as the economy, social-ecological interactions, and the livelihoods of coffee producers. Depending on their level of education, the students can study the material themselves or may be led through it by their teacher/tutor/lecturer.