The Starbucks Foundation has granted Texas A&M University-based World Coffee Research $400,000 to help replant and improve water management in coffee-farming communities in San Pedro Yepocapa, in the Department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
Farmers in the region are trying to regroup following leaf rust outbreaks where, by some estimates, 60 to 70 percent of crops have been decimated. The grant project, in coordination with the Guatemalan national coffee association Anacafé, will include introducing and testing new rust-resistant F1 hybrid varieties of coffee plants, in addition to working to improve wastewater quality through an cooperative training program, and education on farming economics. All of this, of course, is designed to boost Yepocapa coffees in a competitive marketplace and help members of farming communities build and maintain sustainable incomes.
“Small producers must change the way they farm coffee if they intend to survive in the new climate-changed, competitive world of high-quality coffee,” WCR Executive Director Tim Schilling said in an announcement following the grant receipt. “The use of the new varieties will give the farmers a better future by generating considerably more income and allowing them to attract quality-demanding roasting companies who pay higher prices.”
The grant was provided by Starbucks’ nonprofit, charitable wing, the Starbucks Foundation. The group doled out $3.7 million in grants for similar projects at origin in 2014, and estimates that it has administered $15 million of grants related to farming community building since its inception.
In marginally related news, Tracy Ging, vice president of sustainability and strategic initiatives for S&D Coffee & Tea in Concord, N.C., has been named vice chairperson of World Coffee Research. Over the next three years of her term, Ging will act as vice chairperson, chairperson and immediate past chairperson. Ging has been on the group’s board of directors since 2012. She’s also a director on the SCAA board.