Nothing like the smell of a better world in the morning.
Like it or not, most coffee-farming families are dedicated gamblers—betting all of their resources, all of their work and their very survival on the annual coffee harvest. All told, 125 million people worldwide are dependent on the coffee harvest.
Many villages become ghost towns during the harvest, as fathers and sons, and sometimes entire families migrate to work on coffee plantations. The generally meager pay makes survival difficult and adequate health care and education more or less impossible.
The specialty coffee industry has always been at the vanguard of socially-conscious efforts to provide a more just price for a quality product, and is leading the way for many other industries. Fair trade, bird-friendly, shade-grown, organic and other premium price supports have raised awareness and are beginning to address the problem.
While these premiums provide consumers with the opportunity to pay a more just price, they do not address one of the root causes of poverty in many coffee-farming communities: the singular reliance on coffee for income. For coffee, fair-trade or no, is all that many of these families have—and it is not enough.
Coffee-farming families need alternative income to supplement the annual harvest, and break the cycle of poverty. In reducing their dependence on coffee, farmers can begin to lift themselves out of poverty.
Coffee Kids is a non-profit organization that has been working to improve the quality of life in coffee-farming communities for over 20 years. Coffee Kids fosters stable, long-term projects outside of coffee that help people pull themselves out of poverty.
The organization currently works with 12 organizations in five coffee-growing countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru) to create programs with an emphasis on microcredit, education, health awareness and food security.
The Association of Northern Coffee Cooperatives (CECOCAFEN) in Nicaragua that manages a microcredit project with Coffee Kids’ support. The microcredit program has 735 participants who have saved $67,000(USD) and distributed 430 low-interest loans to invest local businesses
The Center of Support for the Popular Movement of Oaxaca (CAMPO) recently completed a training center dedicated to sustainable living techniques in Oaxaca, Mexico. The center provides educational opportunities to impoverished populations and educates municipal authorities about sustainable development.
By helping make daily life less of a gamble for coffee-farming families, Coffee Kids helps ensure a sustainable future from bean to cup.
Coffee Kids is a US-based, member-supported organization. For more information on how you can help, visit http://www.coffeekids.org or call 505-820-1443.