|Coffee farmers offer a thumbs up. (Image: Colombian National Federation of Coffee Farmers)|
|Colombian coffee farmers are |
benefiting from high world prices
and big harvests.
Only a few years ago, Colombian coffee suffered a crisis: A fungus infested the crop, forcing farmers to tear out their bushes and replant them with a resistant variety specially developed by Colombian agronomists.
Today, those new plants have are producing big time - and at just the right moment. This year, the Brazilian and Indonesian crops have been hit by drought, while a fungus has attacked Central American crops.
At the same time, coffee consumption is rising, especially in Asia, removing more coffee from the world market.
The global coffee shortage means that, just as Colombia's production is peaking, so are world prices. Last November, coffee cost 107 cents per pound on world markets, according to the International Coffee Organization; this past November, the same pound sold for 162 cents.
|Minister of Finance and Credit Mauricio Cardenas addresses |
the recent National Coffee Farmers Congress.
"Eliminating the price guarantee would for the exporters be like touching heaven," a coffee farmer leader said during the congress.
Despite its good times, Colombia's coffee industry is also experiencing some troubling trends. One is the exodus of young people from rural areas to the cities. At the same time, paradoxically, coffee farms have become smaller and smaller as a family's land gets divided among several children.
Thru the 1950s and later coffee was a mainstay of Colombia's economy. Today, coffee continues to form an important part of Colombia's economy, but other exports, especially oil and coal, generate far more export income.
|Coffee is farmed throughout Colombia's mountains.|
(Image: Colombian National Federation of Coffee Farmers)
Coffee farming, in contrast, employs more than a half a million Colombian families, according to the Federation of Coffee Growers. If those families average five members each, we're talking some 2.5 million people, or 5% of the Colombian people.
By putting money directly into the pockets of working families, coffee continues contributing greatly to Colombia's national well-being, another reason why high world coffee prices are a good thing.
Drink up, coffee snobs.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours