Monday, March 7

Starbucks to the Rescue

Coffee is second to oil on the world market in terms of foreign exchange earnings. The potential for coffee to provide for the well-being of Africans is tremendous. However, at the recent coffee growers convention in Livingstone, Mwanawasa blamed the decline of the commodity's production in Zambia on HIV/AIDS. "It is well known that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is slowing down productivity. The threat to sustainable coffee production will be bigger if HIV/AIDS is not urgently controlled," he said. In a country where life expectancy is less than 34 years and an estimated 1 in 5 adults has HIV/AIDS, having an available work force is a management nightmare.

Nevertheless, Starbucks, the world's largest coffee retailer, announced at the coffee convention that it would increase its coffee purchases from Africa in the coming years. According to Reuters, "Increased purchases from Africa . . . reflected growing demand for Starbucks’ Cafe practices certified coffee and its desire to see more cash in farmers’ pockets." Corporate magnanimity? Or reflective of the fact that Starbucks wants to add an additional 1500 stores worldwide in 2005?