Friday, April 13, 2012

Coffee Kids: Continuing the Dialogue around Food Security

In last month’s email newsletter, we discussed bringing you stories from NGOs and industry leaders focused on improving food security in the coffeelands. Coffee Kids is one such organization that works with coffee-farming families to improve their lives and livelihoods. Below is an update from Coffee Kids on their efforts around this topic within the specialty-coffee industry and coffee communities.

"The premiere of the documentary “After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelandsat the Specialty Coffee Association’s 2011 Symposium in Houston last year spoke to a topic to which Coffee Kids has long been attentive: seasonal hunger and food insecurity within coffee growing communities. In addition to continuing the crucial dialogue instigated by the premiere, most notably at this year’s SCAA event in Portland, OR, our food security campaign continues. We have committed to raising $50,000 for food security projects by the end of 2012. These funds will go towards projects that enable coffee farming families to improve their nutritional well-being and increase communities’ capacities to ensure an adequate supply of fresh, local food, minimizing the impact of rising global food prices.

Beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2012, 45% of the projects we have supported have improved (and continue to improve) the food security of coffee growing communities. These projects, always developed in conjunction with the communities themselves, range from worm-composting modules and education to the establishing of family vegetable gardens to comprehensive health and nutrition programs. The projects are diverse and wide-ranging and are always attentive to the needs and goals of the communities choosing to implement them.

All our food security projects will take place in Mexico this year, where despite the country’s relative wealth, food insecurity poses a pressing issue in rural communities, rendering the country vulnerable to food crisis in coming years. Currently, we are developing 5 projects in Oaxaca, 2 in Veracruz and 1 in Chiapas – all regions where sustainable food futures are at risk. And we plan to expand our programs to additional countries as more communities seek to become involved.

Some of the greatest successes of 2011-12 so far have been projects in worm-composting. The example of the Worm Composting and Gardening project, being run by program partner, the December 5th Coffee Producers Network (RED 5), in Oaxaca, illustrates how much can be done with just a small investment. In just one year, the group has set up worm-composting bins for 39 participating families and generated more than 15,000 pounds of compost, which they use in their family vegetable gardens. In a region of Oaxaca where topsoil depletion is a grave problem, the worm-composting project provides opportunity to replace essential soil nutrients, allowing farmers to increase vegetable production both for their own consumption and to sell in local markets.

Another exciting initiative is the Community Participation in Food Security project being run by partner TCPI (Everything as Indigenous People). Currently in very early stages of development, the project will directly strengthen the subsistence farming systems of 25 families in the community and will over the coming years be rolled out to the entire community. By improving agroecological practices, the participants will increase their food production and recuperate the soil’s fertility, protecting it from further erosion. The project has been endorsed by local authorities and community members have expressed excitement at the opportunity to improve their subsistence yields while also increasing soil fertility, which will enable them to pass on both agricultural traditions and a better life to future generations.

As our approach to improving lives and livelihoods is always holistic, in addition to food security, Coffee Kids continues to develop projects in the parallel areas of healthcare, education, capacity building, and income diversification. With an approach that integrates all these areas of social development, we know a better food future, and coffee future, can be achieved."