SOURCE: Lutheran World Relief, Inc.

Lutheran World Relief, Inc.

April 02, 2015 11:34 ET

Lutheran World Relief Receives $350,000 From Starbucks Foundation to Support Coffee Farmer Livelihoods in Colombia

Pro-Cafe Project Addresses Environmental Challenges Affecting Coffee Production

BALTIMORE, MD--(Marketwired - April 02, 2015) - Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has received a Starbucks Foundation grant of $350,000 toward its project Pro-Café: Protecting Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Coffee Livelihoods, a two-year project that contributes to the protection of the local ecosystem, provides sustainable livelihoods, and fosters community in the Guarinó River watershed in Caldas, Colombia.

"We believe that satisfying the growing global demand for coffee, and improving the lives of the farmers who grow it, can and should go hand-in-hand," said Carolyn Barker-Villena, LWR's regional director for Latin America. "In order to have a reliable and sustainable supply of coffee for the world, it's imperative to invest in the farmers who produce it, and we are grateful to Starbucks and the Starbucks Foundation for recognizing that and making such investments."

Challenges for Coffee Farmers

Coffee growers' livelihoods and quality of life in central Colombia are at risk due to deteriorating environmental conditions caused by both a changing climate and poor community hygiene and sanitation practices. As profitability of traditional coffee production and agricultural activities decreases, farmers often adopt unsustainable practices that further deteriorate the natural environment. As the negative spiral continues, migration away from the coffee-producing communities increases, and conflict erupts over use and control of natural resources -- in particular over water and land -- threatening to reignite forced displacement in the region.

With support from the Starbucks Foundation, LWR's project addresses these challenges by improving water quality in the region and introducing climate-smart agricultural practices that support environmentally sustainable coffee farming. Specific project activities will include installation or repair of community sanitation infrastructure, and training on hygiene and sanitation; installation or repair of on-farm coffee wet mills; and introduction of climate-smart agricultural practices that improve coffee quality and yields while also protecting the local ecosystem.

Starbucks Commitment to Ethical Sourcing

This grant is part of Starbucks comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing. To date, Starbucks has contributed $15 million in social projects to support farming communities around the world. In 2014, the Starbucks Foundation granted more than $3.7 million to multiple organizations whose work addresses relevant needs in specific communities. Each investment is targeted to create a sustained impact in a local community developing the necessary infrastructure to help support systemic, long term change.

Over the past 40 years, Starbucks has been dedicated to supporting the lives of farmers and their families around the world who grow their coffee. Through a comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing Starbucks is providing fair wages, access to farmer loans and technical assistance in order for farmers to navigate the complexities of agriculture -- a long term process. In total, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in collaborative farmer programs and activities over the past 40 years. In 2015, Starbucks will achieve the goal of 99 percent of its coffee being verified as ethically sourced. Additional details about Starbucks community initiatives are available at Starbucks.com/Responsibility/sourcing.

About Lutheran World Relief:

Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit lwr.org.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Emily Sollie
    410-230-2802 office
    443-220-3269 cell 
    esollie@lwr.org