Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production

June 10, 2020 by  
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Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production Dean Cycon Wed, 06/10/2020 – 01:00 When you sit back with a good cup of coffee, you will be engulfed in the warmth, aroma, taste, acidity and body of the brew. Yet, swirling beneath the surface all of the major issues of the 21st century — climate change, globalization, immigration, women’s rights and wealth inequity — are being played out in remote coffee villages around the world.  How companies behave in the coffee trade has a direct impact not only on the lives and livelihoods of 28 million coffee farming families but on the welfare of the planet itself. Coffee companies claiming to be “ethical” or “sustainable” that refuse to pay a living wage to the farmers are fueling this longstanding human and environmental crisis.  Changes in rainfall patterns and temperature weaken coffee plants and reduce yields. Climate-enhanced fungi and bacteria decimate coffee plants, leaving families with little or no income for the next five years until new trees can be planted and mature. Larger farm owners must deforest land and plant more coffee to make up for the historically low prices they are receiving from the market. This deforestation inhibits carbon sequestration, which leads to higher temperatures. The cycle is self-fulfilling.  As a result, coffee production will be greatly limited in medium and lower elevations by 2030 to 2050. When production is reduced, farmers may use more chemicals in the growing process, which harms the soil and water sources, further degrading the planet and human health. Coffee, poverty and migration are also connected. The largest single group of migrants trying to cross the southern border are from Guatemala, and most of them are from the coffee lands of Huehuetenango province. They are unemployed and landless coffee farming families hoping for a better life.  The price per pound paid to coffee farmers is based on the “New York C price,” a commodity system that operates much like a stock market. For several years, the C price for coffee has hovered around the farmer’s cost of production ($0.80-$1.10), which means no profit for the farmers. From a high in 2014, prices paid to farmers have plummeted by 70 percent and now dance around $1 per pound. Every pound a farmer sells, and every cup we drink, pushes a farmer deeper into poverty and despair.  If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. Companies are not required to base their payments to farmers on the C price, and many of us do not. Organic and Bird Friendly certifications offer a price premium to the farmer. Fair Trade provides a “living wage floor” and many committed Fair Traders pay substantially higher prices. The few real Direct Traders offer real price premiums for limited amounts of high-quality coffee. Many companies hide behind labels, such as Rainforest Alliance or Utz Kapeh, or self-created programs such as “Ethical Sourcing,” which sound good but do not guarantee higher prices.  Ironically, coffee company profits may be the highest in history. Companies such as Smuckers and Starbucks continue to raise their prices while their main cost of goods (buying coffee beans) has dropped considerably. According to the United Nations, the ratio between what the farmer was paid and what the companies sold their coffee for was 1:3 during the 1970s. Today, it is as high as 1:20, as many consumers are paying $20 a pound.  In 2012, Starbucks reported its average price for green beans was $2.56 per pound . However, that is the price it paid to the broker, not to the farmer. After backing out shipping, insurance, importer and exporter and mill costs, that price would be closer to $2.20 paid per pound to the farmer. By 2014, Starbucks was only paying $1.72 to the broker (maybe $1.36 to the farmer). By paying the lower amount, Starbucks took $387 million out of the farmers’ pockets. As green prices keep falling, Starbucks has continued to pay coffee farmers less, while charging consumers more.  So, who is winning this game? Not the farmers, not the public and not the environment. Instead of paying enough to support the farmers, large and small coffee companies contribute lesser amounts to nonprofits for clean water, health and environmental projects under the banner of “corporate sustainability.” If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. If Starbucks returned to its 2012 broker and farmer prices, it nearly would double family income on most small farms. To family farms in Nicaragua, Peru, Ethiopia and Indonesia, that $1,400 could pay for healthcare, children’s education, proper nutrition and technology to produce higher yields and reduce their need to clear land. Even a 25-cent increase in the price paid to farmers, which would get Starbucks closer to the prices paid by truly committed coffee companies, would bring $150 million back to the farms and its stock price would not even blink. As an industry, we have lived long and well by treating farmers just like coffee. We see them as fungible commodities instead of true partners in the success of our businesses who are integral to effective adaptation to climate change and other issues of the day. The days of maximizing profits without seriously incorporating farmers’ concerns that bind us all together are over. It is time to pay up. Pull Quote If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. 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Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production

New Orleans declares state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nate

October 6, 2017 by  
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In the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons in modern United States history, New Orleans braces for impact as Tropical Storm Nate barrels through Central America en route to the American Gulf Coast. Nate, which has already claimed the lives of at least 22 people in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, may make landfall in New Orleans as a hurricane after having gained strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, warned those living in vulnerable areas to relocate to higher ground. “There is no need to panic,” Landrieu said in a statement. “Be ready and prepare. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.” In addition to the state of emergency in New Orleans, evacuation orders have already been issued for parts of Louisiana, including St. Bernard Parish near the city, while storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued for the neighboring Alabama and Mississippi coastal areas. As much as a foot of rain is expected in the region, with storm surges of four to eight feet. Related: New Orleans golf course transformed into city’s biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus As of early Friday morning EST, Tropical Storm Nate was departing from Honduras and rejoining the waters of the Caribbean, with maximum sustained winds of 45 MPH. It is expected to strengthen as it crosses Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH are predicted. Although the storm is passing, parts of Central America are expected to receive up to 30 inches of rain. The storm has already delivered powerful downpours, which have caused mudslides and flash floods. 15 people in Nicaragua and 7 people in Costa Rica have been killed as a result of Tropical Storm Nate. Via ABC News Images via ABC News  and Phil Roeder

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New Orleans declares state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nate

Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

September 22, 2017 by  
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Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has announced plans to sign the Paris Accord, leaving President Trump alone with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the two remaining national heads refusing to support the international agreement. In December of 2015, the leaders of nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce global greenhouse emissions and prevent climate change from worsening – including former president Barack Obama. But Trump refused has reneged on that commitment, formerly claiming climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese. According to a report by Managua-based television station 100% Noticias, Ortega said on September 18, “We will soon adhere, we will sign the Paris Agreement. We have already had meetings addressing the issue and we have already programmed the accession.” The Central American nation originally opposed signing the Paris Accord because the goals in the text “did not go far enough.” To elaborate, it had been confirmed by scientists that emissions levels from some of the top polluters — including the US, EU, China, and India — were not low enough to prevent sea levels from rising or to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. As a result, Nicaragua abstained. President Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the historic accord. Despite receiving an environmental encyclical from the Pope himself and being informed by a variety of scientists about the dangers of climate change , he said the action for the US by an executive order which Obama signed while in office puts American workers in the steel, coal and other manufacturing industries at an “economic disadvantage.” Related: Hundreds of Dead Sea Turtles Wash Up on Nicaragua’s West Coast Nicaragua has been a haven for renewable energy . More than half of the country’s energy is sourced from geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy. Nicaragua plans to increase that to 90 percent by 2020. The World Bank referred to the country as “a renewable energy paradise” four years ago. Because the agreement will not go into effect until 2020, Nicaragua has until then to draft a required national action plan and to formalize it into law. No date has yet been set for the signing. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater

August 28, 2014 by  
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Did you know that only 1 percent of freshwater in the world is available for human consumption? Or that 140 litres of water are required to produce a single cup of coffee? Over 70% of water used in Latin American coffee farms is returned into rivers without being treated, causing severe damage to to downstream communities, aquatic fauna, and flora, due to its organic waste and high toxicity. UTZ Certified, a sustainable farming initiative, is changing that. 19 pilot sites across Nicaragua , Honduras , and Guatemala received tailor-made coffee wastewater and solid waste treatment mechanisms, and the positive impact, both economic and environmental, has been startling. Read the rest of 19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: clean water , coffee , coffee farm , coffee farming , coffee farms , coffee production , drinkable water , Guatemala , Honduras , nicaragua , recycled water , UTZ , UTZ Certified , waste water , wastewater , water initiatives , water issues

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19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater

Nicaragua Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017

January 8, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock The Central American country of Nicaragua has never been as fortunate as its neighbors when it comes to energy reserves. In fact, most commercial electricity is generated by imported petroleum while a small portion of domestic energy is generated through hydropower and  geothermal power . However that is to change with the country’s  National Development Plan , which calls for 94% of the country’s electricity needs to be sourced from renewables by 2017 . Read the rest of Nicaragua Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017 Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alternative energy , foreign oil , geothermal , Geothermal power , hydroelectric , hydropower , Latin America , National Development Plant , nicaragua , renewable energy , renewables , San Jacinto Project

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Nicaragua Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017

Nicaragua Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017

January 8, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock The Central American country of Nicaragua has never been as fortunate as its neighbors when it comes to energy reserves. In fact, most commercial electricity is generated by imported petroleum while a small portion of domestic energy is generated through hydropower and  geothermal power . However that is to change with the country’s  National Development Plan , which calls for 94% of the country’s electricity needs to be sourced from renewables by 2017 . Read the rest of Nicaragua Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017 Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alternative energy , foreign oil , geothermal , Geothermal power , hydroelectric , hydropower , Latin America , National Development Plant , nicaragua , renewable energy , renewables , San Jacinto Project

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Sleep in a Protected Forest at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge in Nicaragua

July 3, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Sleep in a Protected Forest at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge in Nicaragua Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco design , eco hotel , eco lodge , eco-tourism , ecotourism , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green hotel , morgan’s rock , morgan’s rock hacienda and ecolodge , nicaragua , san juan del sur , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , Sustainable Hotel

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Sleep in a Protected Forest at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge in Nicaragua

PHOTOS: The Most Delicious Green Designs at the Berlin Taste Festival

July 3, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of PHOTOS: The Most Delicious Green Designs at the Berlin Taste Festival Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , bamboo bench , Botanical , Ceramic home-ware , cork set , cows parts , Direktorenhaus , glass , green events , green materials , green packaging , green products , Recycled Materials , recycled paper , recycled wood , recycling / compost , slow cooking , sustainable food , Taste Festival Berlin , Terrariums , Urban Farming

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PHOTOS: The Most Delicious Green Designs at the Berlin Taste Festival

Volunteer Vacations: 13 Eco Trips Worth Working For

July 18, 2011 by  
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[ By Steph in Animals & Habitats & Geography & Travel & Nature & Ecosystems . ] Travel to exotic locations like Kenya and Cambodia (or just within the United States) to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn valuable skills and make a difference in ecosystems and communities. Volunteer vacations let participants take a break from normal life to hand-feed kangaroos, explore archaeological finds in ancient temples, improve isolated rural areas, protect endangered species like lemurs and manatee and even study the effects of climate change in the Arctic. These 13 trips offer incredible cross-cultural experiences that will broaden your horizons and make you feel good about your contribution to the world. Rescue Rhinos in Kenya (images via: bobrayner ) Spend 15 days helping to bring back black rhinos from the brink of extinction with Earthwatch, gathering data on the African savannah. Opportunities to travel to Kenya for this trip arise nearly every month of the year. Volunteers will help Dr. Geoffrey Wahungu observe rhinos in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, measuring the composition and condition of the vegetation eaten by large herbivores like the rhinos as well as elephants and giraffes. Save Sea Turtles in Costa Rica (images via: parisminaturtles.org ) Volunteers are critical to the success of the Parismina Sea Turtle project, which works to protect endangered sea turtles, particularly during nesting season. Stay with locals, in hotels, in cabins or in camping areas; the minimal fees charged to participate vary by accommodation type. Volunteers interact directly with the turtles, count and collect eggs and watch baby turtles hatch. Uncover the Origins of Angkor in Cambodia (images via: dave_b_ ) The stunningly intricate and mysterious temples of Angkor in Cambodia will be your playground and classroom as you help Earthwatch map the area, look for new prehistoric sites and measure and photograph excavated treasures. Fees start at $1925; volunteers stay at an inn. The next 7-14 day trips are scheduled for January and February 2012. Work with Wallabies in Queensland, Australia (images via: goeco.org ) The chance to hand-feed a rescued wallaby joey with a baby bottle is reason enough to join the Go Eco volunteer trip on a wildlife reserve in Marlborough, Australia . Trips are scheduled every two weeks and cost $680 including bunk beds in rustic rural lodgings and communal meals. Volunteers care for and rehabilitate the endangered Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, one of 45 existing species of kangaroo in Australia. Garden & Get Creative in Israel (images via: kibbutzlotan.com ) Healthy young volunteers are needed at Kibbutz Lotan in Israel to design, build and run sustainable communities. Get practical hands-on experience in natural and alternative building methods as well as gardening, and create art with recycled materials. Volunteers live in straw bale dome homes at the ‘Eco Campus’ for two weeks at a cost of $550. Learn About Lemurs in Madagascar (images via: belgianchocolate ) Join Azafady, a Madagascar charity, in protecting endangered lemurs on volunteer trips ranging from 2 to 10 weeks long . Each 10-week block starts in January, April, July and October every year and involves practical hands-on conservation research. The data collected is used to highlight the plight of lemurs and other threatened species in the area. Volunteers are asked to raise a minimum donation of $967 for the first two weeks of the program, with decreasing donation amounts for each two weeks thereafter. Study Climate Change in the Arctic (images via: noaa photo library ) Study climate change firsthand on the front line – the Arctic circle. Volunteer teams on this Arctic trip leave in September, February, June or August to collect climate change data from the forest to the tundra in northern Canada. In addition to using high-tech scientific equipment, you’ll travel on sleds pulled by snowmobiles, and even learn how to build and live in igloos. Based at the Churchill Northern Studies Center, the program is 10-11 days long and costs a minimum of $2995. Monitor Mangroves and Manatees in Belize (images via: blueventures.org ) Hit a biodiversity hotspot and help develop new conservation and research initiatives with Blue Ventures in Belize . This volunteer program assesses the sustainability of fishing practices and the effectiveness of existing protected areas, takes surveys of coral diversity and researches mangrove ecosystems, which are among the last safe havens for such endangered species as the West Indian Manatee and the American Saltwater Crocodile. Volunteers of all ages are welcome in expeditions that range from 3 to 12 weeks; fees depend on length of stay and whether you’re certified to dive. Maintain Nature Trails in Montana (images via: bmwf ) If you’d rather stay within the United States, there are plenty of volunteer vacation opportunities from coast to coast. This one, organized by the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation , takes you into the wild rugged terrain of Montana to maintain trails and campsites. Volunteers, who also get the opportunity to learn new trail and backcountry skills, can choose from projects that range from long weekends to weeklong backpacking trips, from fairly easy projects to those involving strenuous hiking. Prior trail maintenance and backpacking experience is not required. Improve Rural Romania (images via: btcv.org ) If you’re interested in helping a human community in need, consider one of the volunteer trips organized by BTCV. In concert with Agora, a non-profit NGO, BTCV embarks on programs in needy areas of the world including Romania and Bulgaria. Volunteers will experience traditional rural life, maintaining orchards, making improvements to existing buildings and helping to construct new ones. For the first week, you’ll stay with a local family, and for the remaining four days you’ll be camping. Care for Captive Cheetahs in Namibia (images via: earthwatch.org ) While you might not get quite this up-close-and-personal with a cheetah on a volunteer expedition to Namibia ,  you will participate in vital data collection on cheetah populations as well as wildlife surveys and livestock guard dog programs. Volunteers stay in two-person bungalows at Eland’s Joy, a working farm that serves as the headquarters of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Trips begin nearly every month, last 15 days and require a $3,539 minimum donation. Explore Active Volcanos in Nicaragua (images via: javier.losa ) Explore the effects that volcanic activity has on surrounding wildlife at the edge of the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua . You’ll get to monitor volcanic gases, take water samples and see red-hot magma and tropical species like turtles and parrots first-hand. Volunteers stay in a small hotel and enjoy local food during this seven-day trip, which costs $2595. Marine Survey Dives in the Bahamas (images via: livingonimpulse ) Never dived before? That’s okay! You can actually earn credit toward diving certification while diving off one of the three largest barrier reefs in the world to establish and monitor three new marine protected areas. Participants in this volunteer trip to the Bahamas first get dive training, learning how to study coral and fish underwater, and then do two survey dives a day Monday through Friday with recreational dives available on Saturdays. The program ranges from one week to three months and starts at $3,300. Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist: Reptiles: 8 of the Scaliest Endangered Species 8 fascinating endangered reptile and amphibian species from around the world that capture the imagination with their colors, habits, and beauty. 2 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» Climate Change: 13 Animals Facing Future Dangers Deforestation, global warming and other climate changes could have serious effects on dolphins, amphibians, turtles, penguins and many other animals. 5 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» Road Warriors: 4 Extreme Long-Distance Animal Travelers Life is truly spent away from home and on the road for animal road warriors like bar-tailed godwits, European eels, estuarine crocodiles, Northern elephant seas. Click Here to Read More »» [ By Steph in Animals & Habitats & Geography & Travel & Nature & Ecosystems . ] [ WebEcoist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]

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Volunteer Vacations: 13 Eco Trips Worth Working For

Green Living Project Explores Central America’s Cutting-Edge Eco-Tourism

April 10, 2010 by  
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Image via: Green Living Project The indie media production company Green Living Project (GLP) is building a good reputation when it comes to documenting the globe’s sustainable travel sector–covering the best practices in eco-tourism, wildlife conservation, geo-tourism, eco-lodges, community development and education. The latest location on their push-pin map?

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Green Living Project Explores Central America’s Cutting-Edge Eco-Tourism

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