Why Do We Need Coffee to Be a Sustainable Crop?
According to the group Conservation International, your morning cup of coffee is at risk. The answer that they’ve come up with has everything to do with making sure that every cup of coffee that gets poured emanates from a sustainably grown coffee farm. CI’s goal is to “make coffee the world’s first fully sustainable agricultural product,” and they’ve laid out the challenge to all coffee drinkers in very specific terms. With producers and retailers already on board, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge website has already been launched.
When broken down to raw numbers, the facts around coffee’s impact are staggering. According to Conservation International, “the coffee we drink depends on the health, prosperity and well-being of 25 million coffee producers, 10 million hectares of coffee farms, and the continued ability of nature to sustain them.” All of which makes for a pretty convincing argument when it comes to creating a universally sustainable crop out of international coffee production.
Who Can Join the Effort to Make Coffee Sustainable?
According to the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, the intention is to create “a collaborative effort of companies, governments, NGOs, research institutions and others to transition the coffee sector to be fully sustainable.” This includes:
- increasing transparency,
- aligning around a common vision for sustainability and
- collaborating to accelerate progress.
The mission was originally “conceived by Conservation International and Starbucks and launched during the 2015 Paris climate meetings with 18 founding partners dedicated to coffee sustainability.” Currently, there are more than 80 partners involved around the globe.
Buying Shade-Grown Coffee Is a Good Start
According to the Everyday Environmentalist over at The Nature Conservancy, buying shade-grown coffee is a great start in the challenge to adopting sustainable coffee in broader measures. The site highlights the fact that coffee plants that are cultivated within the shady canopy of neighboring tropical forests help to “provide valuable habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife and endangered species. Coffee farms engaged in shade growing can support approximately 150 individual species of migratory birds, providing them with shelter and sustenance for their long journeys.”
But it’s not just the birds that win. Shade grown coffee ensures greater levels of biodiversity and less monoculture, offering greater protection from pests and invasive species and simultaneously reducing the need for harmful pesticides to be brought into the cultivation of the crops.
Just as important, they note, “shade-grown coffee beans ripen more slowly, providing a deeper, more luxurious flavor.”
What Other Measures Are Being Taken?
The International Coffee Organization notes that with regard to developing a sustainable coffee economy, the importance of “working to promote an awareness of the need for a sustainable coffee economy by making stakeholders in the coffee sector aware of the threat to sustainability posed by negative economic conditions for producers, and proposing measures in areas such as quality, promotion and diversification to maintain balance in the world coffee market” is key to the success of such efforts.
You can learn more about sustainable coffee efforts by clicking on any of the links included in this article.