STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 11, Number 4

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24 STiR coffee and tea | 2022 Issue 4 (August/September) T By Carrie Pallardy In Hawaii, Kona Earth works with a farm consultant to find pickers. Courtesy of Kona Earth he coffee supply chain is a vast, global network that includes processes like roasting, packaging, distribution, and retail, but it all begins at the farm. Grow- ers hire labor for various durations ranging from full-time to part-time to sea- sonal. Producers rely on human hands to pick, package, and roast coffee before it begins its journey to markets around the world. Yet hiring and managing workers is complicated. Approximately 60% of the global coffee supply comes from smallholder coffee farms, defined as 5 hectares (12 acres) or smaller, according to a study by University of Vermont researchers published at Farms both big and small are being squeezed by environmental and social pressures. Climate change is making it more difficult to farm. The viability of many farms, and the livelihoods of the people who work there, are at risk. Farm workers are vulnerable to exploitation, sometimes enduring unsafe labor practices, insufficient wages, even forced labor. Some regions have to cope with political instability and lack of infrastructure. Coffee farm workers sometimes face difficult job conditions, low pay, unsafe labor practices — even coercion. These have been problems for centuries, but a few farm owners, roasters, social enterprises, and associations are developing solutions. By re- specting human resources, new approaches might help ensure that the first link of the industry's supply chain is not broken by a lack of willing hands. Improving Conditions for Workers at Coffee Farms "We make sure to visit the farms, not once every two to four years but every week, and we develop continuous interaction with the farmers to listen to what they want." — Luis Fernando Velez, Amor Perfecto

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