Coffee Farmers Face Increasing Pressure To Migrate

by | Feb 8, 2019

Key Insight

A farmer recently told us that when price signals reached him before the harvest, he knew he only had one option: migrate.

The drivers of migration remain the usual suspects: climate change, debt and prices, and, in some parts of the Northern Triangle, violence. But the pressure of these forces is increasing, and it is hard to ignore their compounding nature when you are dealing with them all at once. The hard numbers[1] as well as numerous qualitative features[2] seem to bare out the hypothesis that the pressure on Central America´s coffee farmers is growing.

For those who were following the news prior to the November midterm elections in the US, you probably came across the story of the migrant caravan a few times during your daily reading (another one left Honduras in January). Although these caravans are not uncommon, the size of the one in the fall caught some by surprise. What caught my field team by surprise, was that  before the caravan, and right around the time the C-Price dropped below a $1/pound we started to hear from our staff about a slow exodus of program participants, family members, and friends or acquaintances in the region, making the journey North.[3] Our field team began to investigate what was driving these seemingly sudden decisions, and contribute to the growing press coverage of the issue.