Climate Change and Coffee: CRS, Partner Win $200,000 Grant

Catholic Relief Services announced today it will help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change on coffee production in Latin America using a $200,000 grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.

The Coffee Under Pressure (CUP) project, a partnership between CRS and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), will forecast the effects of climate change on coffee-growing communities in Mexico and Central America and help farmers develop strategies to adapt.

“Small-scale coffee farmers in Latin America already have very fragile livelihoods.  Climate change is likely to make them even more vulnerable,” says Michael Sheridan, CRS regional technical advisor for agro-enterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean. “This project will give them more information about climate change to help them adapt their agricultural activities to changing conditions.”

As climate change models show, the ideal altitudes for growing coffee will shift in coming years as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change. Altitudes of 1,200 meters, where some of Latin America’s most celebrated coffees now grow, will be too hot by 2020. And by 2050, high altitudes, historically too cool for coffee, will be ideal. 

“Climate change poses a threat to our business, and to our entire eco-system,” says Michael Dupee, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. “This project has the potential to make a seminal contribution to both the developing world and the coffee industry.”

Working through CRS’ CAFE Livelihoods (Coffee Assistance for Enhanced Livelihoods) project, CIAT will gather information throughout the region to create models that predict the impact of climate change on coffee production and quality in the specific areas where coffee farmers live.  These models will also identify other crops that could thrive as conditions change.  In collaboration with CRS, CIAT will work to deliver that information to the more than 7,000 farmers participating in CAFE Livelihoods, and to help them devise long-term strategies for coping with climate change.

The three-year CAFE Livelihoods project is helping more than 7,000 farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua strengthen their engagement with specialty coffee markets and bolster their income by improving productivity, coffee quality and market access.

“Our work under CAFE Livelihoods is designed to strengthen all the links in the coffee chain, and it is necessary to help small-scale coffee farmers participate in the competitive specialty coffee market,” says Sheridan.  “But it is not sufficient to protect them from the long-term impacts of climate change, which can threaten the mainstay of their fragile livelihoods.

“We believe that GMCR is breaking new ground in the industry with this grant.  Lots of coffee companies invest at origin to help strengthen the coffee chain, but few understand threats that emerge from beyond the coffee chain as part of their business models, and even fewer invest at this level to help farmers address those threats.”

The proposal from CRS and CIAT was one of four projects to receive a grant under GMCR’s Changing Climate Change initiative, a campaign that includes operational initiatives, employee incentives to reduce carbon emissions, and the purchase of carbon offsets. 

The $200,000 grant to CRS and CIAT is payable over five years. Details on the project can be seen at www.BrewingABetterWorld.com.

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One Response to “Climate Change and Coffee: CRS, Partner Win $200,000 Grant”

  1. Ojara Denis Says:

    I am grateful about what CRS and CIAT are doing in Latin America about climate change which is a hiden time bomb which many people are not minding about, even some of the leaders esp. in Africa.
    I wish CRS could also bring a similar intervention in Northern Uganda where there has been insurgency for 2 decades and the poverty striken returning population are depleting the trees a terible rate and if this goes unaddressed then in few years to come the region will be bare ground without vegetation.
    Please rescue us!!

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