For more than 15 years, Conservation International and Starbucks have worked together on how to produce coffee in a way that is sustainable, transparent, and good for people and the planet.
In 2015, Starbucks partnered with Conservation International and made a bold commitment. For every bag of coffee sold in participating Starbucks’ stores in the United States, one new rust-resistant coffee tree will be provided to farmers in places most impacted by coffee rust: Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala.
As part of this commitment, coffee trees are distributed to farmers who have been most impacted by coffee rust, a plant fungus that damages millions of coffee trees around the world, making it harder for farmers to produce high-quality coffee. In less than a year, the program has provided millions of trees across the three countries – but that is not enough. To help a single coffee farm thrive again, farmers may need thousands of new trees.
Renovation — replacing old trees with new ones — is one important way to keep farms healthy and productive. Because of climate change and significant pest and disease outbreaks in recent decades, farmers in many places are in desperate need of support.
However, replanting projects can have unanticipated impacts on forest conservation. For example, if farmers cut down old growth or shade trees in addition to replacing non-productive coffee trees, the consequence of deforestation and loss of forest connectivity can lead to deterioration of water resources and biodiversity.
As a partner in this effort, CI is working with Starbucks and the administrator of the nurseries to put in place the following safeguards:
Conservation International not only monitors the program to ensure the quality of the planting materials that farmers receive, but works closely with local suppliers to verify that the safeguards were understood and respected by those receiving seedlings.
With many coffee-growing regions around the world feeling the impact of coffee rust on their quality and supply of Arabica coffee, supporting coffee farm renovation with rust-resistant varietals becomes a critical element in ensuring the longevity of the industry.