Small Coffee Farmers Struggle

Published On: November 24, 2021|0 Comments|

NOT SO LOCAL

Regions hit hard by conflict and climate change, threaten the livelihoods of small coffee farmers.
Supporting the growth and sale of high-quality coffees, guarantees quality coffee cultivation, and benefits the small coffee farmer, as well as boost the coffee growing regions economies. Specialty coffee farmers have learned to maximize sustainable farming practices, and increase coffee quality and productivity in an effort to sustain and in some cases restore livelihoods.

Over the past decade, the value of the global coffee industry has almost doubled. More than 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each day and the market is expected to grow. Younger generations in particular, are driving demand for high-quality coffee, and are willing to spend more money on unique and premium coffee experiences.

With the global demand for coffee continuing to rise, and consumers thirsting for coffee Artisanry and exquisite blends, it should be ideal to be a coffee farmer. However, in many regions, a range of challenges are causing entire communities around the world with rich histories of high quality coffee cultivation to struggle, threatening coffee farming.

In Zimbabwe for example, coffee production fell due to decades of instability and economic shocks, substantially destroying the country’s entire coffee industry. Separately from the collapse of the country’s national economy, there was the knock-on effect of low yields of high quality coffee, leading to limited economic returns for farmers.

In regions of Uganda (the Rwenzori Mountains) and Colombia (Caquetá), two of the world’s largest coffee producing and exporting countries, coffee farming has reduced in recent years, impacted by climate change and conflict respectively. In the Rwenzori region, farmers collect a little over 3 pounds of coffee cherries per tree every year, about a quarter of national averages, while in Caquetá, nearly 50 years of conflict caused many farmers to abandoned their lands , coffee almost disappeared from the region.

Additionally, experts predict climate change could cut the land suitable for Arabica coffee production in half by 2050, eradicating both coffee and the livelihoods that depend on it.

Finding ways to support the growth and sale of high-quality coffees can help restore livelihoods and these regions’ economies and guarantee high quality coffee cultivation. Sector revival is possible, through collaborative support from governments, NGOs, coffee brands like Blackwoods coffee and you, the consumer.

Such efforts increase the possibility that high-quality coffee in these regions can become globally available. As a result, farmers can attract premium prices for their coffee and enhance their quality of life. Importantly, your support helps to expand the marketplace for quality coffees, creating long-term opportunities for sustained growth and success.

Small coffee farmers like Jesca Kangai from the Mutasa District of Zimbabwe, can now send her five children to school and has been able to buy a cow and goats to help feed her family. Another farmer from the region, Zachariah Mukwinya, has plans to enlarge his homestead, improve his farm’s irrigation, and wants to buy a car.

Such support is making a clear difference in other ways, too. High quality coffee production has increased by 9% in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe and 10% in Caquetá, Colombia.

In the Rwenzori region of Uganda, farmers have been able to revive the quality potential of natural Arabica in the region, by reinventing the traditional and sustainable process of natural unwashed Arabica known as DRUGAR (Dried Uganda Arabica). Traditionally, DRUGAR coffee has a reputation of being of lower quality, with farmers picking both ripe and unripe beans. Farmers often had to sell their entire crop for a low price – and were unable to invest back into their smallholdings. After the implemented todays’ best agricultural practices and the right infrastructure, the region’s coffee industry and communities, have been revitalized raising crucial economic development and high quality DRUGAR coffee.

The impact has already been significant, as Joseph Kirimbwa, a coffee farmer from the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda explains: “… I have changed the way I pick my coffee, meaning I get a better quality coffee and more money. This improved way of working my coffee crop means I was able to earn enough money to start building my house.”

Reviving these coffee industries can help struggling regions face today’s challenges, and grow in the future. More needs to be done, collectively; we can and should help vulnerable communities to unlock the enormous potential of their specialty coffees – restoring local economies and sustainable livelihoods, while preserving the future of some of the world’s rarest blends.

Many of us can’t imagine starting our day without a remarkable cup of coffee, but if we care about the future of coffee, and the people who produce it, we must help farmers to tap into new opportunities, ride the new wave and bring lasting stability to their communities.

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