Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers has started a disaster relief effort called the ‘Roya Recovery Project’ to help Central American coffee farmers who are facing what the company described as “staggering losses” as a result of the widespread outbreak of coffee leaf rust disease.
Early donors to the project include Cafe Moto, Cafe Mystique, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Progreso. The project was announced at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) conference in Boston last week.
“As with many crises, there is lots of information available about roya, but it is difficult for farmers to discern what is really useful,” said David Griswold, CEO of Sustainable Harvest. “Our goal with the Roya Recovery Project is to work with the industry to help farmers make well-informed decisions so they recover as quickly as possible from the devastation.”
The project focuses on tools and training and bringing best practice to rural coffee farmers. Customized for certified organic farmers, the toolkit that Sustainable Harvest is developing includes a DVD and complementary training manual that aggregates guidance from coffee industry experts from Anacafe, Cenicafe, Comsa, El Valle, IHCAFE and FNC so that farmers can apply recommendations based on their unique circumstances.
Sustainable Harvest has also launched a website, RoyaRecoveryProject.org, as an online resource for suppliers and others in the industry. The website will include a forum where farmers, researchers, roasters and other supply chain representatives can share information about topics such as chemical treatment, tree replacement, disease-resistant varieties and farm management best practices.