GLOBAL COFFEE giant Starbucks has added another £19m to its Global Farmer Fund to help farmers fight climate change and improve their livelihoods.
The £19 investment more than doubles the fund, which was started in 2008 with £12.5m. The fund is distributed in collaboration with leading lending organizations such as Root Capital and the Fairtrade Access Fund.
So far, the funding has benefitted more than 40,000 farmers through more than 62 cooperatives in eight countries.
‘In 2015, we have achieved a number of milestones across our ethical sourcing initiatives but we know that the work isn’t done…’ said Craig Russell, executive vice president of Global Coffee for Starbucks. ‘By providing access to capital, farmers have the ability to make strategic investments in their infrastructure, offering the stability they need to manage ongoing complexities so that there is a future for them and the industry.’
The farmer financing fund has evolved to include medium and long term investments in order to help provide the necessary stability to allow farmers to manage a changing climate. This is by enabling better management and investment in crop production and soil management, as well as restoration and infrastructure improvements. These factors directly influence coffee quality, sustainability and overall profitability for the entire specialty coffee industry.
‘Traditionally smallholder coffee farmers depend on a single payment at the end of the harvest season to cover their expenses for an entire year,’ explained Richard Rhinehart, Executive Director SCAA Specialty Coffee Association of America. ‘They are most often viewed as too high risk or lack access to any conventional loan facilities, and are captive to a cycle of sustained poverty.
‘In order to break this cycle, these producers need to be able to make investments in their farms, households and communities that will deliver long-term benefits. Such investments require credit, and buyers who are willing to extend credit and share risk with farmers are not only stabilizing their own supply chains but contributing to the resiliency of coffee production globally.’
In 2015, Starbucks verified 99% of its coffee as ethically sourced.