Recent volatility in the prices paid to coffee farmers for green coffee has prompted responses from both Mexican smallholders and state institutions. Based on ethnographic data collected in central Veracruz, this paper investigates the simultaneous interaction of state institutions and coffee farmers in mediating the commodity crisis. We argue that the state’s mode of planning in the coffee sector policy is based on strict neoliberal definitions of farmer ‘viability’ and market efficiency and results in significant flaws in state-led development projects. Six responses to low coffee prices – both within and independent from the context of state intervention – are discussed in great detail to show that, for now, autonomous responses initiated by coffee producers appear to be more ‘viable’ livelihood strategies than the state-engineered solutions being promoted in the region.


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pp. 109-131
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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