Starbucks has announced a $20 million commitment in support of emergency relief for smallholder farmers in Central America affected by sharply lower coffee prices.
The funds will be used to directly subsidize smallholder farmers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador during the upcoming harvest season. The Seattle-based company also will expand its 100 Million Trees program and will partner with the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation to supply twenty million coffee trees, technical support, and other materials over the next two years to smallholder farmers in Colombia.
"A majority of the coffee we purchase comes from smallholder farmers, and the coffee crisis in Central America related to low prices cannot be ignored," said Michelle Burns, the company's senior vice president for global coffee and tea. "We have a role and responsibility in helping smallholder farmers sustain their livelihoods. Their success will help ensure the long-term health of coffee productivity."
"The coffee we drink depends on the well-being of twenty-five million coffee farmers, and right now — with coffee prices below the cost of production — farmers are in trouble," said Bambi Semroc, who, in partnership with Starbucks, leads the Sustainable Coffee Challenge and serves as vice president of sustainable markets and strategy at Conservation International. "Without stable livelihoods, farmers can't invest in their farms or in protecting the nature coffee depends on for its future. This fund, aimed directly at the most vulnerable farmers, is an industry first — and represents the bold actions we need more of to make coffee truly socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable."