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Peasant coffee farmers and climate change: the case of Café Justo in Chiapas, México

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Small-scale, peasant farmers are some of the most vulnerable people to the effects of climate change. They rely on a stable climate to support their natural ways of farming, which

Small-scale, peasant farmers are some of the most vulnerable people to the effects of climate change. They rely on a stable climate to support their natural ways of farming, which typically depends on consistent rainfall, temperate weather, and predictable season cycles. The perceptions of how successful coffee production is during shifting climatic disruptions is of key importance, if mitigation or adaptation efforts are to be successfully implemented. By using ethnographic methods with members of a coffee cooperative in Mexico, called Cafe Justo, I found that peasant farmers are very perceptive of the climatic changes and recognize forthcoming challenges as a result of changes in weather and precipitation levels. Rain-fed agriculture remains particularly vulnerable to coffee market demands, as coffee production for the majority of the cooperative members is the primary source of income. Through interpretive analysis of in-depth interview data collected from 19 coffee-famers in Chiapas, Mexico, I identified factors associated with perceptions of changing climate and weather conditions. Social identities, general perceptions of climate change, and impacts on livelihoods were investigated through the speaking-with model, as it was presented by Nagar and Geiger in 2007. These findings have rich implications for co-learning between the small-scale, coffee farmers and the scientific community so that mitigation and adaptation strategies are discussed. The findings also merit further investigation into future migration changes due to mass exoduses of climate refugees who are no longer able to successfully cultivate and harvest the lands to serve their needs and those of their community.

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  • 2018