As the average age of farmers continues to rise, organizations like Gente Del Futuro aim to provide education and resources to young farmers.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Gente Del Futuro
It’s no secret that we’re losing coffee farmers. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) reports that the average age of a farmer is 56 years old, and that younger generations are leaving farms to pursue work in cities—work that is often more lucrative than coffee farming.
Without farmers, there is no coffee, so organizations like Gente Del Futuro are attempting to provide support and resources to young coffee farmers. “In many producing countries, the average age of coffee farmers is increasing. Youth are not motivated to stay in coffee, there is a problem with profitability within the sector, they face lack of ownership of land, coffee trees, access to training and finance and benefits derived from coffee,” notes Vava Angwenyi, cofounder and director of business development for Gente Del Futuro. “As a result, they leave the rural areas looking for employment in towns. Continuation of coffee production by the ‘next generation’ is therefore at stake, and poses a great risk for the coffee sector as a whole.”
Although the stakes are high, Gente Del Futuro believes that the solutions are achievable. “We believe that through making coffee more profitable and empowering our young people through practical and technical training, we can promote a more inclusive approach to develop better functioning coffee chains and decommoditize coffee,” Vava shares, “benefiting both men and women of different age groups equally and encouraging future generations to be a part of the coffee industry.”
As Vava mentions, the problem is twofold: Young people are not joining the coffee sector and the price of producing coffee is too low, and the organization believes the solution must tackle both problems. These problems, however, are related to one another—the future of coffee depends on farmers making more money. “In light of these limitations, we are working to break the cycle of poverty through our core business activities coupled with educational outreach and training in agricultural and financial best practices,” Vava says.
Right now, Gente Del Futuro works on the ground with farmers across the globe. “We at Gente Del Futuro are working to break the cycle of poverty through our core business activities coupled with educational outreach, gender sensitization workshops, and training in agricultural and financial best practices,” Vava shares. “Through a more inclusive and equitable purchasing model, and extensive practical training program geared towards the younger generation, we hope to not only improve incomes for producers while establishing a scalable and sustainable premium coffee business training program, but create wider impact by generating a new generation of leaders within the coffee sector who have hands-on expertise, to steer change and create more job opportunities within these coffee communities.”
You can learn more about Gente Del Futuro here.