Who has the hardest job in the coffee value chain? Is it the farmer, who has to create just the right growing conditions for each single coffee plant, countering unpredictable climate, droughts and deluges, pests and diseases and an uncertain economic future year after year? The processor, who has to balance the orders he gets from … Continue reading The Hardest Job Of All
Coffee is known to have some of the most volatile prices of any agricultural commodity. The crux of agricultural markets is this: There is always an imbalance of supply and demand. If supply is smaller than demand, prices soar. This animates more producers to plant the crop in the following year to reap high earnings. … Continue reading Hey Mon, What’s Up with Jamaican Coffee?
I peek around the corner of the grocery store. Well, I guess ‘store’ is a misnomer – distribution point, maybe? I am shy at first because I am wary of being an obnoxious foreigner, treating Havana as an open-air museum full of entertaining quirks that actually make up Cubans’ reality. But the clerk waves me … Continue reading State-Sponsored Food Security: The Cuban Case. Does It Work?
I can’t forget the wistful stares. “How lucky you are to come and visit us! We’d like to travel as well and see the world.” Legally, there is no problem anymore since the exit visa requirement was abolished in 2013. Yet, economically it is impossible for the vast majority of Cuban citizens. Average public-sector … Continue reading Cuba: Lessons to be Learned for Sustainable Living?
Hello? Is anybody still out there? I have to give a heartfelt apology for my absence recently, but it came with much work, much travels, and much activity that have left me scrambling to tend to my little blog. However, I am back now, and hopefully for good! The content and intensity of this blog … Continue reading Things I’ve … Written!
Hi hi! So sorry to be out of commission for so long! It’s been a busy couple of weeks with applications and paper edits and work, but I’m back and all backed up with stories to write about! Here is one that needs little words and just a lot of imagination, since I will take … Continue reading Photo Story: The Chocolate Tale
Hey little blog, I missed you! I swear I’ve been writing, too, just for different purposes, and then there was the weekend at the beach and the arts festival… Regularly scheduled content should be back soon. Plus, I’m taking “Writing for the Web” and “Community Journalism” MOOCs at the moment, which should help make future … Continue reading Updates from Coffee Country
Sometimes, it´s easy to get caught up in the news of the day – Ukraine, Gaza, ISIS – that other news items go unnoticed. So, for example, that Central American agricultural producers are being hit extremely hard this year after a disease called coffee leaf rust destroyed many export crops. Now, on top of that, a drought has set in that might leave as many as 2.81 million in the need of food assistance, according to UN estimates.
Though the drought is affecting much of Latin America as well, it is countries in the ‘dry corridor’ of Central America – southern Guatemala, northern Honduras, and western El Salvador – that are suffering most. Guatemala has called out a national state of emergency after 256,000 families lost their crops. Particularly corn and beans, staple foods in the region, have seen stark reductions of up to 80 – 90%. Furthermore, thousands of cattle have died of undernutrition. The region is extremely reliant on agricultural self-sufficiency, with over 60% of the 42 million inhabitants living below the poverty line.
¡Hola, amig@s! Anybody grilling now at the height of summer? Then the first article might be interesting for you. In fact, all of today’s haul is extremely interesting – there doesn’t seem to be any lag in food news due to summer/vacation time! This is what I was reading today: Mark Bittman (or rather, his … Continue reading Burgers, Cafeterias and Food Waste!
For our last agricultural history lecture, we were fortunate to receive a guest speaker from the department who is involved in a mammoth project of mapping the world’s food systems across time. What an interesting pastime, but what a challenge! This is what I referred to in my last post – one of the off-hand … Continue reading The Pre-Columbian Amazon – A Pristine Rainforest Or Intensive Settlement?