Coffee farmer migration is occurring at an increasing amount each year.
Coffee farmers make, on average, one dollar per hour. Even in places where the price of living is low, these wages are unlivable. That’s why more and more coffee farmers each year migrate to find more livable wages.
Central America produces a sizable portion of the world’s coffee due to its climate conditions. Farmers who work on these farms struggle financially, though.
In an interview done in 2021, María Bonilla speaks about her four sons leaving the family farm to travel north from Honduras.
If I didn’t have my mom, I would also go to the U.S. It’s better there. Here, no one is solvent.María Bonilla
It’s not just the wages.
In Guatemala, coffee farmers are migrating due to low coffee prices, plagues and other countries producing coffee. Farmers can no longer rely on coffee for a stable income. Although many generations have passed the trade down for decades, farmers today are struggling to rely on the bean monetarily.
Climate change has also played a part. There has been an increase in floods, droughts and cold fronts. Coffee beans need a temperate or tropical climate where there is no frost, ample sunshine and plenty of water. Any major changes in weather create a risk of destroying the farmers’ production.
Where is the solution?
Because the problem is not singular, the solution to it is unclear. Individuals are migrating to find livable income to support their families. Raising wages will only solve one of the issues that farmers are having.
Low coffee prices are caused by other countries competing to sell the cheapest coffee to the rest of the world. Combating low coffee prices can only be done by selling even cheaper beans, adding to the problem. Coffee plagues can only be aided by resources that cost farmers money that they don’t have.
Lastly, global warming is a worldwide challenge that effects more than just coffee farmers.
There is one thing that can be done to support coffee farmers, though.
By buying Fair Trade Coffee and quality beans, $1.40 per pound goes to the farmer. Supporting coffee bean farmers eases the plight of coffee farmer migration.
When farmers are paid more, less will feel the pressure to migrate in search of workable wages. While an increase in income won’t get rid of all of the aspects that force farmers to migrate, it will ease some of the pressure.