What's Coffee Rust?

May 01, 2017

Human-caused climate change is affecting our planet in an increasing number of unexpected ways. Besides rising sea level, did you know that your morning cup of coffee is in jeopardy due to environmental impacts? Carly Kadlec from Equal Exchange writes: “Coffee leaf rust (or roya in Spanish) is a fungus that overtakes coffee plants and cuts off their nutrient supply, eventually stripping them of reproductive ability or killing them.” The fungus is beginning to thrive in the fluctuating weather with increased periods of heavy rainfall, alternating with droughts and intense periods of heat in many areas where coffee is typically grown. The destruction to small farmers' crops has been described as "swift and brutal" as they can destroy the livelihoods of farmers who rely on every harvest for themselves and their families to survive.

Photo by Equal Exchange

Long-term solutions are a necessity, as climate change is going to get even worse before it ever gets better from a concerted effort by the global community. This alone is one reason to support small farmers and cooperatives who are on the forefront of organic farming methods to overcome negatively affected crops and poor harvests. Collectively distributing economic gains to endure periods of economic uncertainty and putting to good use fair trade premiums allows community groups to fund things like new farming infrastructure that could mitigate this crisis and others like it.

Below, watch a short video from Equal Exchange about Joselinda and find out what women coffee farmers like her are doing to change how they work and to weather the crisis. Your purchases of Equal Exchange coffee help raise funds to ensure the stability of small farmers’ coffee crops.   

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