Despite the economic turbulence worldwide, coffee consumption keeps growing. The International Coffee Organization stated last year that they expected a 1.5% growth in consumption for 2012, and that they believed that supply would be in line with demand. This is definitely happening and as a result, major coffee trading companies like Nestle and Starbucks have significantly raised their prices in the first few months of this year.
This could be excellent news for farmers, as the price for their product will continue to rise and they have almost guaranteed sales of whatever they may produce. However, there is another side of the story. Environmental issues are affecting coffee producing areas, and farmers are just not able to keep up their normal production. They are not able to supply the market’s demands, and it sometimes happens that they are no longer seen as reliable enough by large buyers, so they will not be able to sell whatever they are able to produce.
While some places are getting excessive rainfall, abnormally large drought periods are hitting others. Maintaining a large amount of production, being able to harvest on time, and keeping up with the quality standards is becoming more and more difficult, especially in developing countries that lack the technology and resources to support the industry when weather and environment conditions shift so violently. So, what are the options for farmers, if any? Here are some ideas:
1) Rely on credits to invest in technology. Most governments are issuing special credits to help farmers, and so are some banks. Given the fact that most coffee production is guaranteed to be sold, it will be easier to qualify for a loan. This may help farmers in getting the equipment they need to, for example, ensure water supply during unusual drought periods. Another good part of specialized loans is that training and expert advice is usually involved, and some easy improvements may be rapidly launched.
2) Get together: partnering with other farmers will not only be a way in which farmers may save money and invest together in the equipment they all need; it is also a way in which they can give buyers a better image and appear more reliable: Possibilities of meeting the demands are better when they don’t rely on a single producer. It also allows farmers to share expenses and minimize risks when it comes to investments.
3) Go organic: Improving the quality of a crop may not be the answer in order to meet a large demand, but it is a way in which farmers may significantly improve their earnings from whatever they are able to produce, and it is also a way in which they may be subjects of international support programs.
There are options to overcome the problem for whoever is open to change. However, weather changes in some areas are so dramatic that farmers may be forced to change their crops in order to survive and continue to be productive, even if their product has to be a different one. For some regions, the shift from one crop to another may be the only solution for problems like soil erosion and deforestation.
Regardless, there is a time and place for everything because coffee harvesting needs to have the right region and season for it to grow in full flow just like other crops follow the same line and you can always learn more on this matter with a simple Google search that has become a practiced norm nowadays for gaining first-hand knowledge on various topics.