‘The migration problem is a coffee problem’: Washington Post

Kim Chaffee


I didn’t realize that the steep drop in the price of coffee beans over the past two years has been one of the strongest drivers of migration from Guatemala to the U.S.  I know that biochar has been used to help coffee growers, but I wonder if it could help Guatemalan coffee farmers to reduce their costs, so that they could start making money again.  Starbucks is trying to assist by subsidizing their supplier farmers, but it's still not enough for the farmers to break even.  (I need to read the report on biochar and coffee.)  


In western Guatemala, cultivating coffee was once a way out of poverty. As prices fall, growers are abandoning their farms for the United States.

Guatemala is now the single largest source of migrants attempting to enter the United States — more than 211,000 were apprehended at the Southwest border in the eight months from October to May. Here in western Guatemala, one of the biggest factors in that surge is the falling price of coffee, from $2.20 per pound in 2015 to a low this year of 86 cents — about a 60 percent drop. Since 2017, most farmers have been operating at a loss, even as many sell their beans to some of the world’s best-known specialty-coffee brands.

   A staggering number of those farmers have decided to migrate. 

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