Fighting hunger in the coffeelands

4 May, 2011 by (comments)

A landmark CIAT report on the difficulties faced by smallholder coffee producers in Latin America, and the subsequent action taken to address them, has resulted in a new video documentary by Optic Nerve Productions and The Coffee Trust.

After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands shows how coffee farmers from Nicaragua to Mexico attempt to adapt to the “thin months” – when the money from their coffee harvest is running low, food prices are high, and they’re forced to cut back on food consumption, eat cheaper foods, or take a gamble by taking out loans to buy food. It was premiered at the prestigious Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Symposium and Exposition in Texas, USA, over the weekend. Click below to watch the trailer.

CIAT’s 2007 report by Thomas Oberthur and the late Sam Fujisaka, Coffee farmer welfare in Nicaragua, Mexico and Guatemala, was based on extensive surveys of nearly 200 coffee producers, and revealed the extent of this seasonal hunger. It enabled Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), who funded the study, to restructure their corporate social responsibility program to focus on improving the food security of smallscale coffee producers, and find sustainable solutions to the “thin months.”

Now, over 120,000 small farmers and their families are benefitting from a series of innovative food security projects by GMCR and its partners in both the public and private sectors, including Catholic Relief Services, Heifer International, Save the Children and a range of coffee growing cooperatives in Latin America and East Africa.

GMCR hopes that the new documentary will help to further raise awareness of the food security challenges facing smallholder coffee producers, and keep the issue firmly on the agenda of the specialty coffee industry as a whole.

CIAT’s Mark Lundy, of the organization’s Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) program, said: “It is a great testimony to everyone involved that they acted so swiftly and decisively to tackle the food insecurity revealed in the CIAT report.”

“It really shows how quickly scientific research can have a meaningful impact on the lives of smallholder farmers if everyone pulls in the same direction. This was a case where public-private partnerships really made a huge difference.

“I’m most excited by the on-going commitment of GMCR to push this issue at the industry level. This kind of continual pressure is not something that a research organization can do but it is critical to generate large-scale lasting change that favors the poor.”

We’ll bring you the link to the full, 20-minute film when it becomes available.

Tagged With: , , , , , , , , ,
Filed Under: Latin America and the Caribbean, Regions