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Agroecology, the expertise coffee needs

Oscar looking over his coffee field and his brother's coffee field.  

Oscar Omar Alonzo Aguilar farms coffee on a plot of land alongside his brother in Honduras. Oscar’s field is on the left; his brother’s field is on the right. Why is Oscar’s coffee thriving while his brother’s crop struggles?

The brothers are growing coffee in a region highly affected by climate change—one result of this climate change is the dramatic increase in a destructive parasitic fungus called Hemileia vastatrix, also known as coffee leaf rust.

Oscar has applied efficient micro-organisms that strengthen his plant’s defenses and the results are extraordinary. This is part of a method of farming called agroecology—a practice that's about finding solutions to nature’s problems by utilizing nature herself.

Agroecology is an approach to agriculture that values people and the planet over the profits of global agribusiness. By combining the best in science with farmer knowledge, we can authentically assist farmers and inform global policymaking to create a just, fair and sustainable food system.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and our fair-trade coffee company Peace Coffee are working together to learn more about farmers’ own agroecology innovations while sharing and creating cutting-edge research from top agroecology researchers. We need your help! In our latest edition of our podcast Radio Sustain, we sat down with Peace Coffee CEO and Queen Bean, Lee Wallace, and IATP's Senior Staff Scientist and agroecology expert, Dr. M. Jahi Chappell, to discuss this project in depth.

In 2016, IATP is partnering with Peace Coffee to increase our collective impact—we're going to roll out expanded work on agroecology to take advantage of new opportunities in global policy.

Peace Coffee was born out of late night conversations that started as a strategy session between coffee farmers in Mexico and IATP policy analysts on what to do about harmful trade negotiations underway and ended with the sale of a box car full of coffee beans. IATP works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. Peace Coffee has carried these values as they’ve grown.

With Peace Coffee, IATP has the chance to put theory into practice. Peace Coffee is proud to be working with farmers like Oscar – and we are helping him to thrive in an ever-changing climate. We need your help now to make sure farmers have access to the support and information they need to give them an edge&mash;bringing researchers and farmers together to create solutions that are community driven and ensure sustainability in the face of climate change.

Your tax-deductible gift will support IATP’s participation in this critical work to:

  • Bring agroecologists and Peace Coffee’s growers’ cooperatives together to address the epidemic of coffee rust in their regions.
  • Advocate for agroecology to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and with allies around the world to provide recommendations to the FAO as they undertake regional meetings on agroecology.
  • Work behind the scenes with an emerging pro-agroecology affinity group of countries promoting agroecological policies and practices at the global level.
  • Fight for agroecology at the United Nation’s climate negotiations. While agribusiness continues to push for funding climate “smart” approaches to agriculture that are profitable for them, IATP is leading the charge to fund agroecology projects that are scientifically valid, respect farmers’ own expertise and experiences, and provide benefits to farmers AND the environment. IATP is partnering with groups of the Global North and South to rally support for alternatives to the agribusiness agenda.

Listen to the Radio Sustain podcast Peace Coffee and Agroecology to learn more about this project and make a donation at