Wake Up to Coffee’s Impact on Rural Livelihoods

October 1, 2015
USADF Maria Bedabazingwa found hope after tragedy in Rwanda when she joined a local coffee farmers association.

Can’t function without your morning cup o’ joe? 

If so, you’re like a lot of us. Yet most of us rarely consider what it takes to get those coffee beans into our cup, and how many lives they touched along the way. 

Coffee is more than a popular drink for one-third of the world’s consumers. It’s also a key source of income for some 25 million low-income farm families and their communities in Central America, East Africa and elsewhere around the globe.

So on this first-ever International Coffee Day, it’s a great moment to “wake up” to the impact we can have by helping ensure that what goes into our cup was grown, processed and marketed in a way that:

  • Brings maximum benefit to these rural farmers and communities
  • Will be sustainable in the long run
  • Minimizes environmental harm

At Feed the Future, we do this by helping smallholder coffee producers in Africa, Asia and Central America improve their productivity and incomes to sustainably reduce poverty in their communities. Through its leadership of the Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) helps coffee farmers improve their capacity to produce and process high-quality coffee, expand their sales and get a fair price, and reduce their vulnerability to pests, plant diseases and changing weather patterns.

USAID also develops strategic alliances with the coffee industry to identify and fund projects where critical development needs overlap with business interests. Companies like Starbucks, Keurig Green Mountain, Smucker’s and others know it’s in their best interest to help ensure sustainable supplies of high quality coffee into the future—and that means helping farmers stay in business. By working with companies, farmer associations, non-profit organizations and others, development agencies like USAID can maximize their impact, reduce poverty and help smallholder farmers feed their families. 

So when you’re savoring that next cup, consider how we can all help do the right thing—for the farm family that produced the beans, for the laborers and agricultural cooperatives that picked and processed them, and for our planet.

It starts with getting educated on the topic. So take some time today to learn (and share!) more about the smallholder farmers who produce the coffee we drink: