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Coffee Study Program

What Matters Most: the Development we Need

During their time among the coffee farmers of the Dominican Republic, the Coffee Study Program students witnessed a unique approach to community empowerment.
An approach that, Rebecca believes, highlights the true metrics we should focus on.



Before her journey with the Coffee Study Program led her to the Dominican Republic, Rebecca had a clear idea of what farming communities are like. As a student focusing on topics related to agriculture and environmental policy, she’d visited them in the USA, her home country.
But, as she joined the farmers of Neiba, a town in the southeastern regions of the country, that idea changed and became richer.

“A farming community where everyone is involved.”

Here, every single member of the farming community joined in and knew everything about coffee – from how best to grow and care for it, to which parts should be discarded, and what makes good coffee ‘good’.

What Rebecca and the other Coffee Study Program students witnessed was a shared expertise, an integrated approach born from the community coming together as a whole.

To ensure that the people of Neiba and of other vulnerable areas across the globe are able to thrive, help is needed. Tools or funds might be unavailable for their knowledge and expertise to develop into a business capable of providing them with sustainable means of living. 

The Lavazza Foundation and others are doing just that, for instance by helping to finance farming equipment that allows the community to process the coffee beans themselves and reach the global markets.
Approaches such as this, Rebecca believes, are key.

 

“This is, absolutely, the base of sustainable development.”
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But there’s more to it than ensuring the financial viability of the farmers’ efforts. The metrics involved, Rebecca notes, go beyond that.

The members of the Neiba cooperative, she notes, “are concerned about the quality, not just the quantity, of their coffee.” Their work is more than mere employment and production – it’s empowerment.

“Can you measure empowerment? I don’t know. But that makes more sense than just measuring what you churn out.”

Discover the Coffee Study Program experience through the eyes of Kanika, Stuart and Jia Yi.

 

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