“Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation of an economically prosperous coffee community.”
– Robério Oliveira Silva, former Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO)
This International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of women in coffee, and to advocate for gender equality across the entire supply chain.
But how can the coffee industry go beyond the hashtag and create systematic opportunities for women to thrive?
By Hanna Neuschwander, World Coffee Research
Sometimes facts are so obvious they become invisible.
In the case of coffee, one of those facts is this: Coffee comes from a plant. The entire $225 billion dollar coffee industry in the U.S. is built up from the roots of billions of living, breathing coffee plants that spend their days turning sunlight into fruit. Once you stop and think about it, it’s kind of profound. Nearly 1.7 million jobs — including, if you are reading this, probably yours — depend on those plants doing their thing, photosynthesizing, outsmarting diseases and pests, being rained on at the right time in the right amounts.
It’s also profound to think about just how fragile the entire arrangement is. The vast majority of coffee plants in the field today are really, really (really) genetically similar. Most varieties are not resistant to major diseases. Most are way too old (World Coffee Research guesses that about 50% of coffee trees are more than 50 years old). That leaves coffee especially vulnerable — to disease epidemics like the one that devastated Central American production after 2012, to extremes in weather like excessive rain or drought or frost.
When crops are facing challenges like these, it helps to go back to basics: Coffee is a plant. So — what is needed to help the plant thrive? And, thereby, to help the humans who depend on it?
By Janice Nadworny, co-director of Food 4 Farmers
Ed. Note: Like so many farmers and workers around the world, coffee producers can face challenges that threaten their livelihoods – from natural disasters like la roya to inadequate local resources. Here, Food 4 Farmers shares one possible solution for these communities. Not only does beekeeping facilitate viable income diversification, but it also helps to sustain the environment for future harvests.
The following is an excerpt of a post originally published on Fairtrade America.
A survey of households in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala found that, on average, 63% of coffee households suffered food insecurity during the year. This seasonal food insecurity has a name: Los Meses Flacos, or the thin months of hunger. Families survive by eating less, eating cheap processed food, or going into debt to buy food. (SCAA, from the Blueprint to End Hunger)
Many families resort to off-farm work, neglecting the needs of their farms, with negative consequences for the following year’s harvest. My NGO, Food 4 Farmers, is working to make sure coffee farmers have the option to stay and thrive. Continue reading
By Roberto Vélez, Chief Executive Officer, Colombian Coffee Growers Federation
A cup of Colombian coffee is served at a coffee farm in Cauca, southwest Colombia. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT)
“A cup of coffee is not just a commodity, it is a life.”
Colombian coffee has always pushed the boundaries of what is accepted as the status quo.
The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) was created in 1927. Eleven years later, Cenicafé, Colombia’s Coffee Research Center was founded. Juan Valdez, the character and most important coffee icon in history was in advertisings all over the United States and many countries around the world since 1961. In 1981, the 100% Colombian Coffee program was launched.
What has been coffee’s most successful advertising campaign? Juan Valdez. It was about the character. His integrity, hard work and good practices produced high quality coffee.
First there was the coffee grower, and then there was a great cup of coffee.
By Bambi Semroc, Conservation International
Picking coffee berries. © Ingmar Zahorsky/Flickr Creative Commons
It takes about 70 coffee beans to make the perfect cup of coffee.
It takes about 3-4 years to grow the perfect coffee bean.
Behind those beans that fuel your morning are the lives of millions of farmers around the world whose livelihoods depend on growing, caring for, and selling coffee. Behind those beans is a cumulative land area the size of Cuba dedicated to the cultivation of coffee. And behind those beans are the threats of climate change affecting growing conditions, market volatility significantly lowering prices, aging coffee trees declining in productivity, and a generation of farmers seeking economic alternatives for their livelihoods.
These are complex issues that require a wide range of solutions and commitments.
Enter, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.
We’re excited to be a part of the inaugural celebration of the coffee industry, which will focus on raising support for smallholder coffee farmers.
The ICO and Oxfam‘s “Caffè Sospeso Against Poverty” campaign is based on the concept of a ‘caffè sospeso,’ an Italian tradition of paying for a second cup of coffee to be given to a person in need.
Learn more over on the International Coffee Organization Blog, and stay tuned for updates.
How will you celebrate the first #InternationalCoffeeDay?