This blog discusses the state of coffee farming within developing countries. In general, there are two scales of coffee farmers, those that are large and those that are small. Some even just grow their own coffee for consumption, while others have formed enterprises with mixed success. This blog will discuss the coffee industry in Panama specifically in an attempt to showcase the disparities present and the need for intervention on behalf of the livelihoods of marginalized coffee farmers.
In Panama there are just a few main coffee organizations that dominate most of the market. This includes Café Santa Fe, Café Duran, and Café Palo Alto. These national brands buy most of their coffee from small scale farmers and are known to set the market price for green coffee beans (not yet dried or roasted) that they purchase directly from small scale coffee farmers. This coffee industry dynamic is practically replicated in both Mexico and Costa Rica. It is a blessing that farmers have a market for their coffee, however these massive brands are holding an extreme control and massive amount of wealth, while the majority of their suppliers are living in poverty.
A Deep Dive
Looking at Panama specifically, the agriculture sector's contribution to GDP is only 0.2% yet statistics show that in 2015 agriculture made up almost 16% of total employment. A large proportion of these agriculture workers come from the coffee industry. That is not to say that some smaller scale coffee farms are without success. They do exist, in fact there are multiple family owned coffee farms, especially in the Boquete region, that have been thriving from the growth of the global specialty coffee market. The issue is that in order for this success to be had, families must have education on business and trade practices as well as the resources to establish global connections. These barriers to enter the market can be incredibly difficult to surpass by the majority of coffee farmers in Panama and results in their marginalization.
These disparities are one of the main reasons Kogo exists today. Many small scale farmers are living in poverty, environmental degradation is reducing crop yields, and Kogo provides solutions to these problems through indirect and direct efforts. Educating farmers, female and male, on sustainable practices and the value of coffee cherries while providing increased income, will directly reduce environmental pollution and increase their resources, capacities, and benefit the community. We hope to inspire local farmers and other businesses to focus on climate-smart agriculture, ethical supply chains, and gender equality.
It is one of Kogo’s missions to be an exemplary organization that helps this issue and also reduces environmental pollution. By supporting Kogofoods and purchasing our products you are making a profound impact on not only yourself, due to our products' variety of benefits, but also helping aid these marginalized farmers and aid the initiatives to preserve our planet’s ecosystems.