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My name is Michael Sheridan and I am the CRS Regional Technical Advisor for Agro-Enterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Whew, that’s a mouthful!  Basically, I work to help small-scale family farmers build better trading relationships and compete more effectively in the marketplace.  I support a range of CRS projects in the region, but I am particularly passionate about one that started just a few months ago: CAFE Livelihoods (Coffee Assistance for Enhanced Livelihoods), which accompanies more than 7,000 small-scale farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Something else you should know about me: I am an unrepentant coffee addict (although some of my colleagues at CRS prefer to see me as a coffee snob).  Lucky for me, I live in Guatemala, origin of some pretty great coffees.  I start every day with two cups of bright coffee with a light chocolate finish from Antigua, less than an hour from where I live.  Fantástico!  Imagine my consternation when I read a report suggesting that under a moderately pessimistic scenario, there will be no coffee in Antigua by 2050!  Or Marcala, Honduras!  Or Las Segovias, Nicaragua!  The region’s best coffee origins may be vanishing under the pressures created by climate change.  Before I got to feeling too bad about myself and the need to look elsewhere in my retirement for great coffee, I started thinking about farmers in those regions, many of whom are third and fourth-generation coffee growers.

What will they do when the conditions are no longer right for producing high-quality coffees and they lose the mainstay of their livelihoods?  Although few poor farmers use the terms “greenhouse gases” and “global warming,” they all are feeling the effects of climate change.  They feel it in the erratic rainfall patterns: the rain doesn’t start when it is supposed to and when it comes it comes fast and furious.  They see it in the fierce wind that cuts short the flowering period.  They see it in their declining soil quality.  And since all of these things reduce productivity, they are feeling it in their wallets.  What is a coffee farmer to do?

We don’t have the full answer, but we understand that helping farmers find answers is an urgent matter.  That’s why we are partnering with CIAT to seek funding from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.  We want to help the farmers participating in CAFE Livelihoods understand how climate change will change land use patterns over time, and what they can do about it.

Want to be part of our response?  Then vote for our proposal!  Help us and our partners at CIAT win this competitive grant and stay tuned to crs.org for updates on our work!

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