Costa Rica’s coffee industry offers new benefits

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In the midst of economic, political, and climate turmoil, the Costa Rican coffee industry is undergoing significant changes. Thousands of migrant harvesters, like Juan Canda from Nicaragua, now have access to insurance for the first time. Juan recalls a recent incident where he hurt himself while picking coffee beans, and thanks to the new insurance, he was able to see a doctor and receive treatment without financial burden.

The coffee industry in Costa Rica has been a cornerstone of the economy, but it is facing challenges. International instability, a weaker dollar, climate change, and labor supply issues are affecting the industry. Additionally, coffee plantations are being replaced by residential developments, further impacting the sector.

Recognizing the importance of social sustainability, the industry has introduced new benefits for workers. These include work accident insurance for over 15,700 people, in addition to health insurance for illness and maternity. These initiatives are part of a social responsibility program supported by private growers and the government.

Guillermo Trejos, manager of CoopeLibertad, a cooperative of coffee producers, emphasizes the importance of providing fair conditions to workers. He believes that these efforts not only benefit the workers but also enhance the sector’s prestige in international markets.

For Juan Canda and many other migrant workers, the opportunity to earn a decent wage and access essential services like healthcare is life-changing. Despite the challenges facing the industry, these new benefits are a step towards improving the lives of coffee workers and ensuring the sustainability of the sector.

As María José Castillo, deputy director of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), explains, these initiatives align with the country’s social security model and its commitment to ethical treatment of workers. The industry hopes that these efforts will also lead to favorable prices from international markets, despite the current challenges.

Despite the challenges facing the industry, workers like Juan Canda remain optimistic. For them, the new benefits represent a significant improvement in their quality of life and a reason to continue working in the coffee industry.

(Source: El Pais)

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