Using a livelihoods framework to analyze farmer identity and decision making during the Central American coffee leaf rust outbreak: implications for addressing climate change and crop diversification Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019, 2019 Taylor & Francis. This qualitative study of one Guatemalan coffee cooperative examined the decision making process of smallholder farmers as they struggled to preserve their livelihoods during an outbreak of coffee leaf rust (CLR). The results revealed that although the cooperative members viewed the CLR as a threat to livelihoods, it was no greater a threat than other crises such as low coffee prices, extreme weather events, and persistent food insecurity. In response, members suspended organic coffee production, borrowed money to purchase food, sought off-farm employment, and grew limited subsistence crops. Yet most interestingly, for the long-term, they remained fully committed to producing high quality arabica coffee even though the cooperative was aware a future CLR outbreak could again devastate production. These findings question the underlying assumption of crop diversification initiatives which rarely consider the importance of farmer identity. Crop diversification and off-farm employment schemes seek to mitigate environmental threats (e.g., climate change) that smallholder farmers face, however this research shows that farmer identity can be just as, if not more, important than crop yields or even income generation. The authors propose a three-stage smallholder producer vulnerability framework to better understand and analyze future livelihoods disruptions of smallholder producers.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bielecki, C. D., & Wingenbach, G.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Bielecki, Christopher D||Wingenbach, Gary

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM