Feb 22, 2014
This CRS Coffeelands post is a beautiful verfication of the importance of the kinds of resilience Artisan Coffee Imports and many others in the resilience "camp" seek to encourage and actively support.
This report from Michael Sheridan and others at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) of the worsening situation for coffee producers in Nicaragua gives a good "360 degree" look at the situation. It's not just the crisis of the coffee-leaf-rust disease, as bad as that is, it's also the problem of 'customer concentration', to borrow a term from manufacturing. With 94% of income coming from coffee, these business people suffer from classic 'one customer, one market' issues. And the lack of crop diversity also reduces food security and dietary diversity. And it's the problem of low coffee prices. And it's the problem of low productivity per hectare planted with coffee, which reduces income from coffee even when prices are good. And, and, and...
"Whole Farm/Household Livelihood Strategies"
Just when we are overwhelmed with the number and complexity of the problems for Nicaragua's coffee producing communities, Sheridan pulls us back from despair. He names the significant efforts in the past and on-going that are addressing root causes, such as tree renovation programs with disease-resistant plants, long term improvement of natural resources and programs financing crop diversity and kitchen gardens. His parting sentence is the most uplifting and is the point where all of us working on resiliency can heartily join forces with CRS:
"we believe that we need to look closely at the coffee production system ... and other sources of income and to
develop whole farm/household livelihood strategies that provide sustainable
relief for the poverty and vulnerability of these producers."
Here we see the door is open for the ways human ingenuity can help tackle the severe challenges presented by nature and past human errors and mistakes. By feeding the stomachs and the minds of the individuals living and working in Nicaragua, we are sure to find paths of innovation that are sustainable-over-the-long-term.