Repost: The abandoned farms behind the global coffee craze


“A lot of farms are being abandoned,” says Sonia Vásquez, an organic coffee grower on the slopes of San José in southwest Honduras. “A lot of people are migrating — many can no longer make ends meet.”

Like many agricultural commodities, the coffee market is prone to “boom and bust” cycles in which high prices trigger the planting of more trees and better management, resulting in improved production. In the case of coffee, the cycles are accentuated as it is not an annual crop and once a tree is planted it will continue producing although yields and quality tend to drop. But when the trees first mature — up to four years after planting — the new output can weigh on prices. And those lower prices can then lead to poorer-quality beans and less output.

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