The Honduran Migration Crisis
In a country where coffee drives much of the country's economy, the vast majority of smallholders still live in poverty. This is driving the younger generation to seek opportunities elsewhere and sparking a wave of migration that is threatening the very foundation of Honduras' coffee industry and the entire country's economy.
The soaring peaks of the Comayagua mountain range are home to the communities of Honduran coffee growers like those in Selguapa, Chaguite & Guaspololo.
In Honduras, coffee is the main agricultural export crop and drives much of the country's economy. In fact, the industry is so implicated in the cultural fabric of the country that school break aligns so that children can travel with their parents as they move in search of work in the coffee farms.
Coffee can conservatively claim around 5% of the country’s total GDP, and yet the vast majority of smallholders still live in poverty. There continue to be very few options for the sale of coffee outside of coyotes (local intermediaries) and co-operatives, all of which pay predatory prices. The result, of course, is that smallholders begin to seek opportunities outside of the country.
Antonio Ramírez is the literal father of coffee in Selguapa and patriarch of Los Ramirez, a group of producers who are transitioning from selling in cherry to local intermediaries.
Almost every producer we work with in the Montecillos mountain range has been affected by the widespread pattern of migration that plagues Honduras. It’s become so extreme that remittances - money sent back to Honduras from other countries - have come to account for 25% of the country’s GDP, a number 5 times that of the global average.
For young coffee growers facing a lack of opportunity, they are often lured by the prospect of the money and modernity America seems to offer. The result is a decline of young, able-bodied community members and the loss of invaluable multi-generational knowledge, skill and passion for coffee growing that is needed to develop economic stability.
Antonio’s son, Jose Antonio, lived for close to a decade in the United States, before returning to Selguapa where he now is proudly investing in his farm, his family, and his community thanks to coffee.
Given the integral role of coffee in the country’s economy, it has the potential to be the vessel for change. Fixing this is impossible for any one person or organization. But, we hope that our support for the communities of Guaspololo, Chaguite, and Bañaderos, by purchasing their coffee at a solid price year after year, can help stem the tide of migration, and keep families together and inspired by their work.
José Dimas Hernandez lives in La Avanera, Selguapa, Honduras. His natural Catuai was featured in our April subscription and coming soon to the P.S. menu.