Coffee and food security in East Africa
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known as CIAT, its acronym in Spanish) collaborated several years ago on research in Mexico and Central America that has helped put the issue of food security on the map in the specialty coffee industry. My colleagues in East Africa will be conducting similar research in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda in the coming months in connection with Green Mountain-funded food security projects in those countries. As far as I know, this will be the first-ever household-level data on hunger in the coffeelands in East Africa.
Through innovative, participatory focus-group sessions and groundbreaking household-level surveys, the GMCR-CIAT process revealed that even families selling double-certified Fair Trade and organic coffees in Mexico and Central America cope with hunger up to six months out of the year. No similar research has been conducted to date in other parts of the coffeelands, to the best of my knowledge. And if the research suggested up to six “lean months” a year in Central America, I shudder to think what it might reveal in countries like Ethiopia, where my sources tell me that 12 million of the country’s 80 million residents receive food aid.
We will publish the results of the research here once we have them.