US helps farmers produce green coffee beans

A multi-million dollar partnership that will help the coffee industry to deliver sustainable and environmental rewards has been launched in the US.

The newly formed Conservation Coffee Alliance is a joint effort between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), non-government organisation Conservation International (CI) and international coffee retailer Starbucks.

Mainly focussing on Central America and Mexico, the Alliance will promote environmentally sensitive, socially responsible and economically viable approaches to business within the coffee industry.

It will also provide small-scale farmers with economic incentives and technical assistance, enabling them to incorporate conservation practices into their production methods.

Farmers will be encouraged to use environmentally responsible growing practices such as water and soil conservation, crop diversification and chemical fertiliser and pesticide reduction to help protect surrounding forests, streams and wildlife.

"We are breaking new ground in supporting small-scale coffee farmers and raising the scale of biodiversity conservation in Mexico and Central America," Glenn Prickett, senior vice president of CI, stated. "The Alliance will demonstrate practical, cost-effective methods to improve the ecological, economic and social integrity of the world's coffee prime growing regions."

The primary goals set out by the Alliance also include increasing the number of coffee producers participating in the Conservation Coffee programme, a scheme run by CI, and making more high quality sustainable green coffee beans available to roasters.

Spokesman for Starbucks, Dub Hay, said that the Alliance supported the company's holistic sustainability efforts in coffee origin countries, as well as its desire to lead positive change within the industry.

"One of Starbucks' highest priorities is working with farmers and their communities to encourage and expand the production of high quality, sustainable coffee, while supporting the success of small-scale farmers into the future," he said.

By Jane Kettle



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