The coffee industry is one of the world's most important agricultural sectors, and millions of small farmers and workers depend on it for their livelihoods. However, the industry also faces a number of sustainability challenges, such as deforestation, water scarcity and climate change. Many coffee-producing countries suffer from extreme poverty and lack effective social infrastructure. In the highly volatile coffee market, producers and their families are incredibly vulnerable.
The economic sustainability of the industry is strongly linked to the social sustainability of communities around the world. In addition, farmers face new obstacles. Climate change is affecting coffee producers in particular. Rainfall is more volatile, droughts and floods are more widespread, and rising temperatures threaten coffee producers, regardless of their location. Think about the most sustainable way to prepare it and consider whether you can support the projects of an organization that promotes sustainability.
Traditional methods of growing coffee, often referred to as shade-grown coffee, consisted of growing coffee plants under the canopy of diverse forests. Coffee certifications can help you find coffee produced using agricultural practices that meet environmental, social, or economic sustainability standards. Trust based on a transparent supply network allows all stakeholders in the supply chain, from the farmer to the end consumer, to participate in reshaping the coffee industry for a sustainable future. Growing challenges are cornering small farmers and often forcing them to abandon coffee cultivation or adopt unsustainable practices in order to survive.
International Coffee Day also highlights the need for fair trade practices and focuses on increasing public awareness. To grow well, it requires shade, so traditional coffee farms interplant trees of different types and heights between coffee plants. Sustainability has become a buzzword in recent years, but the long-term economic, environmental and social health of the coffee industry are vital considerations. Coffee that is fairly marketed and grown in a sustainable way prevents the overexploitation of natural resources, ensures that there is no slave labor or exploitation of workers, and ensures the survival of a sustainable ecosystem for future generations. The geographical isolation of many coffee producers can entail prohibitive costs for practical aspects such as buying tools or transporting the harvest.
In a 2003 report on the sustainability of the coffee industry, the IISD states that the coffee trade can reinforce gender inequity by maintaining patriarchal supply chain structures. A sustainable supply chain ranges from sustainable cultivation, through harvesting, to ecological distribution and fair purchasing of the grain. You can determine if your coffee exporter followed the government regulations necessary to eradicate labor exploitation and ensure humane working conditions; if they protect natural sources against pollution or deforestation; and if they have transparency on many other criteria related to sustainable and ethical business practices. Finally, the coffee journey from farm to cup involves the participation of several intermediaries, each of whom adds their own profit margins, leaving a small part for the coffee producers themselves.