This International Coffee Day we are focusing on one of the biggest challenges to coffee: climate change. Climate change is proving to be catastrophic for coffee growers, cutting the global area suitable for coffee growth in half. Due to habitat shifting & alteration, droughts and temperature extremes, Arabica coffee has been added to the IUCN list of endangered species.
Climate change is not just affecting coffee as a global commodity but specifically the smallholder farmers growing 80% of the coffee around the world. The 125 million people worldwide that depend on coffee are seeing their livelihoods threatened. Low and volatile coffee prices, an exploitative industry rooted in colonialism and extractive capitalism and rapidly changing growing conditions due to climate change all amidst a global pandemic are continually squeezing down on small-scale farmers.
SMALL-SCALE FARMER-LED SOLUTIONS
While coffee farming communities are some of the first to feel the effects of the climate crisis, they are also on the frontline of combating climate change. Smallholder coffee farmers are taking critical steps to diversify their income, grow healthy food for their communities, fight for food sovereignty, implement regenerative and organic farming practices and mitigate climate change.
At Grow Ahead, we support small-scale farmer-led agroforestry projects. Agroforestry has the potential to mitigate climate change, help farmers adapt to extreme and variable weather, increase tree related ecosystem services (such as biodiversity, increased soil fertility, soil erosion control, flood control and pest control), and at the same time increase farm productivity without large amounts of external inputs such as conventional fertilizers and chemicals for pest management. By planting trees in agroforestry--food forest-- systems, farmers are restoring the water and nutrients to the soil, providing food and crops for their families and communities, and pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.
The most crucial part is these projects are planned and implemented by smallholder farmer cooperatives. Community-led projects are better equipped to address the local needs and ensure long-term success. As a result, communities have more sovereignty over their food and the resources to spread knowledge on sustaining their communities and their lands.
TOWARDS LONG TERM SOLUTIONS
Creating a fair and equitable coffee industry requires big changes: fair payment for coffee producers, long-term action for climate justice and fighting corporate consolidation.
This International Coffee Day we can set ourselves up for take long-term action:
- Sign up for the Fair World Project newsletter to receive year-round actions for a just global economy
- Committing to monthly contributions support farmer-led reforestation projects
- Ensure that our daily coffee choices support small-scale producers. Fair World Project's mission-driven brands is a great place to find committed roasters and retailers.