Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA)
The impact on origin:
The coffee industry and consumers can have a huge positive impact on developing countries. It is the industries responsibility to pay a fair price for green coffee and for the consumer to respect this and pay a reasonable price for the quality we receive.
Doing so will improve the quality of life for people living in coffee-producing regions. Children will have schools to go to, families will be able to afford a roof over their head, clean water, and enough food to eat.
So, as coffee drinkers we are reaching out to every coffee drinker to think about how much they pay for a cup of coffee, and what it is worth to you, then consider what it is worth to them. Consider donating that value, it seems like such a small amount that it wouldn’t make a difference. But if we all take on the responsibility of giving, then the collective response over a whole year can achieve great results and when you consider the impact it has on those involved at origin, it seems like a worthwhile way to invest the money.
It is why we are supporting ASCA by providing a portion of the funds raised through donations received via the MY COFFEE COUNTS program to aid industry initiatives and their communities in such a vital way.
Every Coffee Counts. My Coffee Counts.
The role industry plays:
Coffee is produced and exported from more than 50 countries and enjoyed by millions, is amongst the world’s most valuable traded agricultural commodities. Its cultivation plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of 25 million coffee farmers and their families, not to mention those involved in other steps along the value chain: farm inputs, harvesting, processing, transport, roasting, and retail.
The Productive Lifespan of Coffee – is a perennial crop that, much like grapes grown for wine, is greatly affected by soil, temperatures, rainfall, and various other factors.
For this reason, only countries located in the equatorial “coffee belt” offer suitable growing conditions and the specific altitudes required for producing Arabica and Robusta coffee. Coffee plants are long-term assets that become less productive as they age. On average, it takes about three years from the time a seedling is planted for it to bear fruit, and five years for it to reach full productivity.
From this point until the tree is about 15 to 20 years old — barring any incidence of diseases or pests and assuming the consistent application of good agricultural practices — it produces fruit, with yields generally beginning to decline in years eight to 10 and falling over time. However, unlike with grapevines, there is no economic value or quality attribute that come from “old growth” coffee plants.
To maintain healthy and productive plants, investment in ongoing maintenance and periodic renewal is required. In an ideal production system, it is recommended that farmers strategically rehabilitate sections of their farms each year, typically 5 to 10 percent depending on the life cycle of the specific variety in that production zone, as opposed to pruning all trees at once. This approach minimizes income losses in that small blocks are gradually taken offline on a rotational basis. Even though farmers are rehabilitating a percentage of plants each year, overall production increases over time because existing plants are healthier and more productive.
For smallholder farmers, this also means more consistent cash flows. However, without this type of active and ongoing management, the combination of aging plants and poor farming practices creates an environment that is more susceptible to pest and disease attacks. This, in turn, starts a downward cycle of low productivity and low income and, as a result, farmers are unable to invest in their land.
Developing an ongoing commitment:
Factor 1: Community education and support – using the exchange rate alone provides leverage, yet it is only one factor that allows for a broader impact from an initial investment. An ongoing commitment allows for all participants to play a valued role.
Factor 2: Is the ability to turn original investment funds over by relending it 3 to 4 times and to continue to do so as time goes on. This provides stability, shares the investment throughout the community and engages them all in its success.
Factor 3: is the interest earned can then be reallocated to be used to lend out thus completing the circle of opportunity or to use for infrastructure projects designed to benefit communities not just within the coffee industry, but the families and villages associated to improve their quality of life and provide education, health initiatives, clean water, and other supporting enterprises.