WASHINGTON, 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
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
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," said Prickett.
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.