DC, September 29, 2004 (ENS): To improve the
livelihoods of small-scale coffee farmers and conserve
the environment, Conservation International (CI) and
Starbucks Coffee have joined forces with the U.S. Agency
for International Development (USAID) to create the
Conservation Coffee Alliance.
With a focus on Central America and Mexico, the Alliance
promotes private-sector approaches that are environmentally
sensitive, socially responsible and economically viable.
On Monday, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza,
hosted the official signing of the memorandum of understanding
in Mexico City launching the Alliance.
“Instead of destroying productive land, coffee
cultivation is now an engine of conservation. Instead
of slash and burn, we are conserving biodiversity,”
said Garza, addressing businessmen and coffee growers
at a Starbucks café. “The partnership model
we are honoring today is the business model of the future.”
Representatives from Chiapas coffee cooperatives joined
Starbucks President Orin Smith for the signing ceremony.
The USAID Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean
Adolfo Franco took part in the ceremony along with the
Vice President of Conservation International Glenn Prickett.
Franco said, "This Alliance approach is a new,
creative way of doing business. It combines market forces
and business interests to help improve the lives of
rural people and the environment worldwide."
CI works directly with farmers to promote environmentally
responsible growing practices such as water and soil
conservation, crop diversification, and chemical fertilizer
and pesticide reduction that help protect the surrounding
forest, streams and wildlife.
"By uniting the strengths of the government, conservation
and private sectors, we are breaking new ground in supporting
small-scale coffee farmers and raising the scale of
biodiversity conservation in Mexico and Central America,"
Starbucks works with CI and the cooperatives providing
farmers with financial support, technical assistance
to raise the quality of their coffee and a market for
their crops. Last year, Starbucks purchased 1.8 million
pounds of Conservation Coffee at price premiums ranging
from 60 to 200 percent higher than local prices in Colombia,
Mexico and Peru.
Conservation International also manages the $6 million
Verde Ventures fund which provides debt and equity financing
to coffee cooperatives and other small businesses contributing
to biodiversity conservation in CI's priority areas.
In January 2004, Starbucks announced a $2.5 million
direct loan to help capitalize the fund.
The Alliance brings to community level conservation
efforts what they call a “field-to-cup”
approach that includes all aspects of producing, processing
and marketing specialty coffee.
Through economic incentives and technical assistance
to small farmers, the goal of the Alliance is to expand
the areas of coffee fields using the best practices
for conservation and making more high quality green
coffee available to roasters. Building on the success
of a six-year partnership between Starbucks and CI,
the Alliance will focus on projects in Mexico, Costa
Rica and Panama.
Over three years, the U.S. government will provide
$1.2 million and Starbucks will contribute $1.5 million
to fund the Alliance.