The New York “C” market price for coffee has been soaring in recent months. While high prices generally do mean good news for smallholder farmers, they can create complications for cooperatives.
I recently heard an agronomist tell a group of farmers in El Salvador: “With coffee, we all win.” How true. Shade farming and other sustainable production practices deliver each of the four cardinal environmental services: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water resource management and scenic beauty. We have been working for years to help smallholder farmers increase […]
Farmers in El Salvador, which has few remaining natural forests, waning water resources and precious little high-altitude terrain, are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change. That’s why many are making short-term changes to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on their farms and adopting water-efficient post-harvesting technology. The coffee sector in El Salvador is also investing in breeding more resistant varieties.
I was pleasantly surprised on Monday when I received — along with every other member of the SCAA, I presume — a link to the SCAA’s Philanthropic Activity Survey. It is encouraging that the industry is beginning a broader dialogue within its membership about spending at origin, and seeking more information about on-the-ground partnerships in the coffeelands that work.
Then this morning I woke up to news that seems to confirm my suspicion that there is a growing market here for something that is a notch above the traditional local swill: Starbucks will be moving into Central America in 2010, and its first stop is El Salvador.
I have posted references here to some of the great coffee-drinking experiences I have had in the coffeelands over the past year. Beyond their travelogue value, those posts point to an underlying market trend that may make tight markets for quality coffee even tighter — the growing number of quality-focused coffeeshops in producing countries paying premiums for exceptional coffees.
I have been traveling to El Salvador frequently since 2007, but only last week made my first visit to Viva Espresso. My loss! Viva Espresso is easily the best of the growing class of quality-focused cafés serving up good coffee in Central America.
When farmer organizations are able to include a roaster’s social investment agenda as one criterion among many in their commercial decision-making, we may be making progress toward greater sustainability in the coffee trade.
FLO-CERT recently sent the following letter to smallholder farmer organizations regarding its new policy on unnannounced audits. While the idea of a surprise inspection seems reasonable, some of the conditions of the new FLO policy — both stated and unstated — raise some concerns.
Fair Trade organizations struggling to keep pace with the changing and increasingly rigorous requirements for Fair Trade Certification may be wondering how concerns over technical compliance have come to compete for their attention with efforts to ensure social impact.