Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Coffee Crisis and the Migrant Crisis

“My husband had to emigrate due to debt and because coffee cannot even provide for food here,” said Carmen Andino 

Since then, from the US, he has sent money to his wife and three children who stayed behind in Honduras dominated by cultivation of coffee, the country’s top agricultural export.

“With prices where they are, there is nothing to be done,” she added, looking at the plantations that once supported the family, now abandoned because they cannot be maintained.

 International coffee prices in May hit their lowest levels in 13 years, due largely to surging output in Brazil and Vietnam. The region accounts for 10% of the world’s output of arabica, a high quality coffee bean used to prepare espresso and gourmet blends. Coffee has long been a pillar of economic and social development in poor areas between southern Mexico and Panama, known as the “Corredor Seco,” or Dry Corridor - a strip of land that has fallen prey to damaging droughts in recent years. Almost half the coffee-producing areas in the corridor have been under cultivation for more than 25 years, making them “aged” in growers’ terms.

“We haven’t been able to sell coffee this year. It’s not profitable for anyone to be working in coffee,” lamented David Ramirez, 55, a coffee farmer in  south-eastern Guatemala. “Due to the coffee crisis we have no money, partly because of that my daughter Delmi left. But she died there, she got ill in the United States,” Ramirez said

Coffee growers Reuters spoke with across Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, who have swelled the ranks of migrants trying to enter the United States. In the first eight months of the current U.S. fiscal year, which began in October, the number of migrants detained or refused entry at the U.S.-Mexico border exceeded 570,000 - more than the total for all of the previous year. The vast majority of those migrants were from Central America. 

“The children no longer want to dedicate their lives to coffee,” said Luisa Fernanda Correa, general manager of Anacafe, the association representing Guatemalan coffee growers. “If children see their parents are not making a success of it, the business doesn’t interest them,” she said. “They prefer looking for work in other industries.” 

No comments: