Jun 20, 2014

Plague of rust affects 16% of coffee production*

Dear readers,
This bad news is of vital importance to many farmers in Mexico and Central America, including close partners of the Americas Program. The effort by Starbucks is a good gesture, but we have to place it in an overall context. Starbucks investment in Mexico is a mixed bag. First, they refused to give Mexican producers any priority in purchasing or Mexican consumers a broader range of national products to choose from, claiming that the mix of coffee sold throughout the world is decided at a global corporate headquarters level. They did however provide important training in quality control and selection for some of their Mexican partners. Our readers who donated know that Mexico  received a bag of producer-marketed coffee from an organization that has long been dear to us, CEPCO in Oaxaca.

Starbucks' shade-grown coffee project in Chiapas started as an alliance with Conservation International in an area where organized indigenous farmers have long been growing sustainable coffee. Although at the beginning the project supported the indigenous cooperative, it was characterized by top-down methods and later imposed a series of changes that undermined the collective. The relationship was not an easy one.

We will be following up on this in the near future. It may also be a contributing factor to the immigration surge. Please stay tuned--we will also send along ways to support the region's small coffee farmers.
Laura Carlsen

UNIÓN: The coffee production in Mexico in the last year fell 16.1 percent, due, among other factors, the presence of rust fungus , which has mainly affected the coffee growers in Chiapas, the largest producing area in the country.

In this regard, the CEO of Starbucks Mexico , Federico Tejad to announced the "All coffee planted" in support of the coffee communities of Chiapas.

Starbucks will donate Mexico producers requiring coffee renovation 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of coffee bags Shade Grown Mexico until December this year and are supported by the purchase of crop plants tolerant to the fungus rust.

He stressed that Chiapas is producing region with highest quality arabica coffee in Mexico.
Chiapas coffee Starbucks purchased since 1998 and maintains a strong bond with many producers in the region, he said.

In recent years, producers of Chiapas have faced strong challenges in growing their coffee due to the constant climate changes that have led to the spread of rust on their land.
Rust is a fungus that damages coffee plants, not only damaging the crops, it can also completely destroy the coffee plant.

Although rust is spread by various factors, it can be combated with strong varieties more tolerant to the fungus and plants, as well as appropriate counseling culture techniques, Tejada said.
The "All planted coffee" will be implemented in partnership with United Agribusiness Mexico (AMSA), which provides coffee Shade Grown Mexico Chiapas through different producers.
Shade Grown Mexico coffee is served in all Starbucks stores in Mexico and is grown in the shade of trees native to the tropical rainforest in the Triunfo Biosphere, located in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas.
Meanwhile, the director of United Agribusiness Mexico (AMSA), Tonathiu Acevedo, said the recovery time of the plantations is expected within three or four years.

The president of the National Coffee Association, Felix Martinez Cabrera, in turn warned that annual production fell from 4.6 to 3.9 million bags of coffee in the last year and are expected to register at the close of 2014 a further decrease of 23 percent .

In the past 40 years globally Starbucks has invested over 70 million in projects with coffee producers verification and certification projects as CAFE Practices ("Coffee and Farmer Equity" for its acronym in English), as well as centers producer support, investment loans and coffee-related carbon footprint programs.

All these programs are designed to support and promote the productive lives of coffee farmers and ensuring their potential to maintain a chain of stable production and high quality in the coffee industry.

Original Spanish Article. 

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