According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal on May 14, 2013, orange colored fungus, coffee leaf rust called Roya has affected coffee fields from Mexico to Panama, where some of the world's rarest and most expensive beans are grown. Roya thrives on the leaves of coffee trees, choking off the source of nutrition for the coffee cherries that encase beans. Afflicted trees produce fewer cherries, and harvested beans are sapped of flavors that draw gourmet roasters. The fungus is aggressive and resists a number of fungicides. The threat of Roya is expected to get worse next year as it spreads and the condition of the infected trees worsens. If the fungus destroys more than half of a tree's leaves, its owner likely will have to cut the tree off at the stump. Such trees then can't produce coffee beans for three years. It takes almost four years for the first harvest from a new coffee plant. The farmers need the funds to purchase new farming supplies and rust resistant plants to fight this challenge.
My graduation goal
According to Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education I graduated with a Master of Science in Sustainability Management in May 2013, however I made a promise to myself to apply the degree as I was getting the degree. I will consider myself graduated when I have raised $20,000 for As Green As It Gets (AGAIG) and I would like to do this at the earliest possible before I move on to my next career move.
I have personally been to Guatemala twice and here are some heartbreaking facts
• Not all homes in the town had sanitation or clean water.
• The tap water that was provided by the municipality was of questionable quality. It was brown in color on days when the municipality decided to clean the town cistern.
• Coffee farming was the main occupation of the town, however since the farms were on the slope of volcanic hill, most of the rainfall resulted in runoff and there was ample water in the rainy season and scarcity of water until the next rainy season.
• Limited water availability allowed the farmers to have only one harvest per year of most vegetables and subsistence produce.
• The farmers carried water on their back or on horses from their home to the farms which were uphill and almost 45 minutes away.
The gaps identified were so large that the solution would need revamping the infrastructure for the town which was a herculean task. We decided to take bottom up instead of top down approach to solve this problem and chip at the it little by little. We designed a cistern that would provide water to a few farms in the area as a pilot and once this can be tested out, we can replicate it for small groups of farms to address their water needs.
Please help me graduate and meet the goal of raising $20,000 to help the farmers build a cistern as they also deal with the roya challenge.
PS: Please check with your employer if they will match your contribution, a lot of companies do the match and it is an easy way to double your contribution and get us closer to our fundraising goal.