Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Carol Hunsberger


This research investigates whether coffee can play a role in building food sovereignty in Puerto Rico as well as how farmers perceive the effects of growing coffee agroecologically on their livelihoods. The most important contribution of this research is to raise and answer the question of whether a cash crop such as coffee can be part of a food sovereignty strategy. I conducted 18 semi-structured interviews with farmers in Puerto Rico. The findings indicate that agroecological farmers in Puerto Rico believe that growing coffee is an important part of pursuing food sovereignty - which is the framework they used to articulate their activities - because coffee is a central aspect of Puerto Rico’s culture and because it can be grown in ways congruent with the values of food sovereignty, such as small-scale farming and cultural autonomy. An aspect of sovereignty is self-determination, and Puerto Rican farmers believe that growing coffee is a form of cultural production, and therefore is essential to food sovereignty.