By Brittany Schell (class of 2013)

BANGALORE, India, April 2012—In a country plagued for over a decade by farmer suicides, Seattle-based Starbucks, the global coffee scapegoat, could be an unlikely savior for Indian coffee farmers.

Specialist coffee shop chains are growing at an increasing rate in India. Cafe Coffee Day and Barista Lavazza, along with other rival cafes, have opened 1,200 shops in India over the past decade, as members of the growing middle class develop a taste for coffee. Starbucks just announced plans to open 50 new cafes in India by the end of the year.

Yet there is a gap between this prospering coffee economy and the farmers who grow the coffee beans. The coffee-growing states of Kerala and Karnataka rank among the five states with the highest rates of farmer suicide in India. More than 253,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, and in the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka the numbers are 19,000 and 35,000 respectively.

Could a multinational company like Starbucks could help address this gap?

Brittany’s final story is a written piece and a video.