‘We are on top of a very big problem with climate change, and our producers are in the front lines suffering. Farmers in Latin America will probably lose their farms in the next two years because of leaf rust. Farmers in Mexico were almost crying telling us, ‘I have no leaves in my coffee trees’. So I think that for the coming years we have to try to use part of the Premium to survive and prepare contingency plans to assess the risks and adapt our organisations to the new conditions.’
— Carlos Vargas, representative of the Latin American producer network CLAC
Carlos paints a stark picture of the realities of climate change facing smallholder farmers.
In 2015 alone, coffee farmers across Mexico have lost up to 40 percent of their crops to leaf rust, a debilitating fungus attacking coffee bushes. Farmers need to adapt to climate change to be able to protect their livelihoods.
Last year, Fairtrade took action, developing a climate change strategy and launching the Fairtrade Climate Standard to support farmers. The Standard enables them to contribute to reducing emissions, which can then be turned into Fairtrade Carbon Credits. Marks & Spencer is the first company in the UK to commit to buying the credits, which will support coffee growers in Ethiopia to buy clean, efficient cookstoves and reduce their use of fossil fuels.
As Carlos points out, farmers can also use their Fairtrade Premium to adapt to climate change, as well as strengthen their businesses and communities. That’s why our growth in coffee sales this year has been so important, alongside our work with businesses to support farmers to become climate resilient and improve sustainability within the coffee market.
In 2015, UK Fairtrade coffee sales increased by 11% in volume, generating around £5.7M in Fairtrade Premium for farmers and workers