One Tree for Every Bag

Planting the seeds for a better tomorrow, one bag of coffee at a time

September 28, 2015
HOME Farm to Cup One Tree for Every Bag

Imagine looking out on your family’s farm – your livelihood and your legacy – and seeing nothing but frail, old or dead crops. For many farmers throughout Central America, this has become a reality. In some parts of Central America, coffee production has dropped by anywhere from 30-50% due to two factors: coffee rust and aging trees.

Coffee rust is caused by a nasty fungus that attaches itself to the underside of tree leaves, killing the leaves and eventually slowing — if not ending entirely — the amount of cherries a tree produces. The fungus is easily transmitted from tree to tree, or even from a human or animal to a tree, and little can be done to prevent its spread. Coffee rust is found worldwide, but it’s been especially devastating in Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

Photo: Smartse
Photo: Smartse

Meanwhile, many farmers also find themselves with farms full of trees that are well past their peak fruitfulness. While coffee trees can live well over five decades, they typically produce far less coffee after the first 20 years. Solving the problem is not as simple as replacing old with new, because it typically takes three years for a tree to reach its full production potential. This means farmers who need to replace old trees face years of reduced income waiting for trees to mature and begin to offer a return on their investment.

These issues are largely unknown to the greater public, but they are front and center in the minds of farmers. The impact on the families, cooperatives and communities that rely upon these crops is huge.

But what if there there was a cure for both of these issues, and that it could be found in a simple seed? Agronomists have worked diligently over the last decade to create trees that not only are resistant to the coffee rust fungus, but also bear more productive crops.

And now, for every bag of coffee you buy at participating stores, Starbucks® will donate one of these new trees to a farm in need, beginning in Central America

Better yet, the trees have already been incubating for a year in a large nursery, so farmers will be able to start growing and harvesting more quickly than if they were planting seeds.

We’re proud of this program. By sending millions of new, rust-resistant trees to farms, together, we’re helping give farmers a much brighter, more promising future — and ensuring a strong coffee industry for decades to come.*

*To learn more about our One Tree for Every Bag commitment, click here.

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