I am back in the office today after nearly two weeks in Nicaragua where I participated in the Food Security Solutions event and met with CAFE Livelihoods partner organizations. I will be profiling them and all the project’s partners in the coming months. Meantime, some parting shots from my travels in Nicaragua.
I am 10 days and about 800 long-slog miles into a visit to the coffeelands in Nicaragua that will end tomorrow when I get on a flight home to Guatemala. One of the highlights of the visit so far was having lunch earlier this week with Don Jaime Molina on his Monte Cristo farm. Jaime placed second at the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition in April; a few days before our visit, his coffee sold at auction for $12.55 a pound.
Jaime Molina — a member of the 5 de junio cooperative that participates in the CRS CAFE Livelihoods project — took 2d place in last month’s Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition. We can’t take credit for Jaime’s coffee, but we sure will work to figure out what exactly he is doing right and try to share it with other farmers in the project. Congratulations, Jaime, and good luck at auction!
The National Coffee Association here in Guatemala today said that the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha — two natural disasters that hit Guatemala last week — together will reduce coffee exports in 2010-2011 by 121.9 million pounds. By my calculations, that is more than $100 million in lost coffee revenues for Guatemalan farmers.
Last Thursday, the Pacaya Volcano erupted. Then the next day, Tropical Storm Agatha rolled in, destroying lives, homes, bridges, roads and — yes — coffee. The storm is a reminder that all the hard work of smallholder farmers to produce high-quality coffees for the discerning specialty market can be swept away overnight.
The Fair Trade v. Direct Trade debate — to the extent that people are still having it — is fueled by caricatures of each approach that may reflect some grain of truth but ultimately misrepresent the realities of both.
In my last post, I shared some reflections on my recent discussions with diverse coffee industry stakeholders regarding the ways coffee companies are investing at origin. I did not mean to suggest that coffee companies are struggling to find their way while established development agencies like ours have it all figured out. In fact, even […]
Over the the past few months, I have found myself talking with a broad range of stakeholders in the specialty coffee industry about how coffee companies are investing at origin. Here are some reflections on what I am hearing in those discussions and seeing in the field, and some ideas about the directions in which industry engagement in the coffeelands may be moving.
We have partnering with CIAT (the International Center for Tropical Agriculture) to implement a climate change adaptation project with funding from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Coffee Under Pressure: Climate Change and Adaptation in Mesoamerica (or CUP for short) is helping farmers assess their own vulnerability to climate change and adapt to changing conditions on the ground. We also hope this modest project can show a way forward in the ongoing search for cost-effective, scalable ways to bring actionable climate change research to smallholder farmers.
The Juan Ana Coffee project in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, is beautiful in more ways than you can count, beginning with its name. “Juan” was John, the late father of Fr. Gregory Shaffer, pastor of the San Lucas Mission for the past 45 years. “Ana” was Ann, Fr. Greg’s mother. They both passed away at […]