Welcome again to our annual “Making a Difference” issue. It is our chance to recognize some of the great work many of us are doing in the coffee world that improves lives and futures. Remember that this year CoffeeTalk is once again donating $1000 to the non-profit that receives the most click-through to their website. So please, take a little time to read about these groups and if something is interesting, CLICK on it! You will be helping the non-profit and while you are there, you might consider a donation to help them along.
The world today is much different than it was last year at this time. The price of coffee has dropped 47% from its peak, the financial crisis in Europe has taken its toll on consumer confidence and investor optimism, the much anticipated rise of China has not materialized as China struggles economically – both internally and globally. All of these factors are affecting the welfare of coffee growers worldwide.
Global climate change is dramatically reducing crop yields throughout Latin America and Africa as changing weather patterns foster crop pests and diseases that are leaving whole farms barren. In Peru this month, we visited a farm where disease and rust (Roya) had not only destroyed this year’s crop, but also the tender new growth that will bear next years crop.
These are hard times for growers on smallholdings, yields are going down, and pricing is as well. Often reliable buyers of high quality coffees are looking for lower grade product in order to reduce costs in consuming countries, and the entire industry is potentially poised on the edge of another crisis. For years, the markets have placed demands on quality with the promise of future reward. Though higher quality is a focus, the market is, so far, not keeping its promise.
Are small farms a realistic and sustainable business model? Are smallholders too vulnerable to changes in microclimates that larger farms are more capable of weathering? Are buyers in consuming countries romanticizing the idea of small farms without actually considering the human and social costs? Possibly, but these questions are too broad for today, for now.
Today, right now, people need help and resources in order to carry on, and within these pages are intrepid folks within non-profits who set out each day to make a difference for others without consideration of personal gain or comfort. Today, now, please read their stories and if you find meaning there, support them with donations of time, money, and needed resources.
And, remember to CLICK!
Kerri & Miles