The issue of seasonal hunger in the coffeelands is one that I have been addressing on this blog dating back to my first posts in late 2009, generating little apparent interest. Last week at SCAA, however, following the world premiere of the powerful documentary After the Harvest, it seemed to be all anyone wanted to talk about. While not everyone who saw the film was convinced that this is an industry issue, I know it had a significant impact on at least one individual.
Before Symposium began, I was part of a conversation in which a skeptical coffee buyer wondered aloud how hunger can still be an issue in the coffeelands with the market at $3 a pound. “I expect to see coffee farmers driving Range Rovers, not struggling with hunger,” he quipped.
Then, on day two of the Symposium, Rick Peyser of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters spoke movingly of his own engagement with this issue.
Then the film was screened.
Then Merling Preza, the Fair Trade pioneer from PRODECOOP in Nicaragua, shared her perspectives as the general manager of a cooperative of more than 2,300 smallholder farmers who are struggling with seasonal hunger.
(Then I humbly added my own comments on the issue.)
And then the eminent Daniele Gionvannucci situated the perspectives from the film in the broader, sobering context of global hunger.
At the coffee break, the person who had made the “Range Rover comment” the night before gave me his card and asked me to arrange a meeting with him sometime during the show. When we met, he told me that the film had moved him. That he understands he had some misconceptions about life at origin. And that he wants to find ways his company can be part of efforts to fight hunger in the coffeelands.