How CRS is Celebrating International Cofffee Day
Back in July, the International Coffee Organization announced that October 1 would be International Coffee Day. Ever since, it has been asking this question on its social media: “How are you celebrating International Coffee Day?”
CRS is launching a global coffee program.
WHY COFFEE? WHY NOW?
The reasons for specializing in coffee are economic, social and environmental.
More than 10 million smallholder farmers and countless millions of farmworkers depend on revenues from the annual coffee harvest for their income.
Coffee is often grown against the backdrop of social unrest, and represents an important alternative to lucrative, if illicit, activities. That may mean coca production in Colombia, organized crime in El Salvador or drug trafficking in Guatemala.
The forests in which coffee naturally thrives are not only the last bulwark against deforestation and environmental degradation in many developing countries, but also an important part of effective farm-level strategies for climate change mitigation.
Coffee at a crossroads
The reason for specializing in coffee now is this: the sector is at a crossroads. Increasing costs and threats to production in the field have combined with unusual volatility in the marketplace to undermine the profitability of the smallholder farmers who grow most of the world’s coffee. As young people around the world abandon the coffeelands to seek their future in towns and cities, the viability of coffee production in many places we associate with coffee growing has been called into question.
Coffee as a “hero crop”
We believe that the consequences of a collapse of the coffee sector would be too much to imagine—economic dislocation of poor and vulnerable farmers and workers, social upheaval in volatile developing countries, forced migration, and environmental degradation of biodiverse coffee landscapes. We also believe that coffee holds the potential to be what a valued colleague calls a “hero crop” that boosts smallholder income and profitability, dignifies farm labor, stabilizes volatile social situations and anchors agroforestry systems that deliver vital ecosystem services in an era of accelerated climate change.
Investing to unleash the heroic potential of coffee for people and the planet seems to us like a great way to celebrate International Coffee Day.