Developing next gen coffee growers

Today marks International Coffee Day, which in addition to special deals on your favourite cup of joe, calls attention to the plight of coffee growers and promotes fair trade.

While the special day has been around for years, its exact origins are unknown. In 2014, member states of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) agreed on establishing Oct 1 as the annual date.

While a cup of coffee comes at a high price, the amount that coffee farmers receive for the beans is at an all time low, according to the ICO. Hence, they are not earning enough to provide for themselves and their families and may have to turn away from coffee cultivation altogether. Because of this, an increasing number of young people are pursuing other more lucrative professions rather than continuing the family business. The ICO hopes to reverse this trend.

Launched today, the "Coffee's Next Generation" programme will assist coffee growers through financial aid and skills development training. The programme's goals include mitigating the lack of engagement of youth in coffee farming, and promoting their contribution to the sectors' sustainable development.

People can get involved in Coffee's Next Generation through donations, knowledge sharing, partnerships as well as educational and other support.

International Coffee Day recognises others in the sector too, such as roasters, baristas and coffee shop owners, who create and serve the caffeine-rich beverage.

Legend has it that the morning brew originated in ancient Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, where a goatherd observed goats prancing and bleating after chewing red berries of a plant. He felt elated after tasting the fruit, and shared his discovery with monks.

Its stimulant effect was "Devil's work" to the monks, who hurled the berries in the fire, resulting in the enveloping aroma of roasting beans across the monastery. Hot water was then used to make a fragrant brew. The Coffea arabica plant is said to be a descendent of the original coffee trees in Ethiopia.

Today, one can enjoy a cup of Arabica or Robusta for a double dose of caffeine.

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