Plant Disease, Climate Change and What We’re Doing to Fight It

Since 2013 Just Coffee Cooperative has been working with our importing co-op– Cooperative Coffees– to support our farmer partners in the face of severe plant disease and the overall effects of climate change. By donating five cents for every pound of coffee we buy, we– along with our Co-op Coffees partner roasters– have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to recovery, technical training, and other responses in the past five years. This article by Co-op Coffees Sustainability Director Monika Firl explains what we have been supporting and, in turn, what you support when you buy our coffee.


PS – The photo in this post shows technical advisers at COMSA in Honduras showing us examples of healthy organic inputs for building rich organic soils and coffee plants. JCC and Co-op Coffees sponsor these workshops.

A historical point of pride for Coop Coffees roasters is our enduring engagement with our farmer partners. So when we witnessed the extent to which some of our most trusted and long-term producer partners’ fields were being ravaged by the Leaf Rust crisis of 2013, we felt compelled to act. Our immediate response was to create an internal “5-cents for Roya” emergency-relief fund, which became part of a larger, collaborative initiative the following year. From 2014 – 2017 Coop Coffees roasters partnered with the Root Capital/Progreso Network Climate Resiliency Match Fund, which resulted in US$650,000 in total leveraged funding invested with 11 of our producer partners across Latin America. The funds were used to strengthen internal technical support and to invest in projects, such as centralized and improved compost production, field renovation, and technical trainings in regenerative, organic practices. During that same period, Coop Coffees hosted four regional events to support farmer-to-farmer learning and exchange to the benefit of 20 farmer cooperatives across Latin America, representing more than 12,500 coffee farmer families.

Following the January 2017 BoD call and discussion, we had organizational approval and announced the launch of our Carbon, Climate and Coffee initiative. Calculating and tracking our collective carbon footprint and contributing a corresponding amount as a voluntary “carbon-tax” into our producer support fund, links us to a broader conversation around climate justice. Our launching priorities have focused on project-work that encourages reforestation, soil regeneration, and experimentation and learning about other “carbon-capture” and “productivity enhancing” practices. With the Carbon, Climate and Coffee initiative, we hope to create a positive example of how our industry could become regenerative. And investing with our partners to support carbon-sequestering practices and other innovative, environmental-service projects within organic agriculture, contributes to the health and sustainable development in producer communities, while strengthening our direct connections across our supply chain. Along the way, we’ve discovered an incredible capacity within our network of producer partners for innovation, regeneration and the implementation of clear and specific strategies for climate resiliency and adaptation.

For example, in northern Peru, Sol y Cafe has been promoting field renovation and systematic pruning practices that have resulted in maintaining extraordinary vitality in their trees and greater climate resiliency in their fields. In Honduras, our partners at COMSA have developed an entire field curriculum focusing on the 5Ms (Organic Matter, Micro-organisms, Minerals, Living Molecules and Grey Matter) – such as that offered in their Diplomado Organico. Following initial exposure to this kind of innovation, we’ve seen positive impact for producer partners in every country we work with – as they experiment, adapt and enhance their own local practices to face ever-changing climate and coffee-production landscapes.

Overall results to date include improving our understanding of climate impact and discovering comparative energy efficiencies amongst roasters; enhancing climate resiliency and productivity with our producer partners and their cooperatives; achieving more stable supply and, thereby, reducing risk for both producers and roasters; and finally, in achieving our ultimate end-goal of greater social, environmental and economic impact for our producer partner families, communities and organizations.

Please check back for updates on how this program proceeds and its results and thanks for supporting this great work by supporting Just Coffee.