Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Association of Small Coffee Producers

Some of these cooperatives work better than others. Some become a further tool of exploitation and some actually pass the money through to the farmers. The same for the certifications, they may not be quite what they seem. Small loans to the growers are a big consideration. The farmer must hire the pickers. If he wants or needs to get paid right away he is forced to accept a lower price. In the past the loans have been tied to a lower price. If he waits for the milling of the pergomino and the negotiated price of the cooperativa, he can do better. Transparency is hard to come by.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fair Trade, the Confusing Part

Starbucks v Ethiopia Storm in a coffee cup
Nov 30th 2006 NEW YORK From The Economist print edition

Interesting conflict. By branding Ethiopian coffee, Starbucks contends the Ethiopian government and the elite will realize the benefits and not the farmers. Yet, loans and grants other than Fair Trade pricing may not benefit the farmers either. It is our contention that the farmers who are hurt the most by low world coffee prices are the mountain farmers who cannot take advantage of chemical and genetic enhancements, pesticides and fertilizers, nor can they benefit from open fields and mechanized harvesting. These most disadvantaged farmers, however, remain the sole custodians of the finest high mountain, shade grown coffee. The health benefits of chemical free and the social benefits of fair trade are obvious. This exclusive source of high quality is not.

You can have your cake and eat it too. By buying the better than fair trade priced coffee from hard to reach locations, offered by these small niche market Fair Trade importers, you give social justice and enjoy the cote d oro coffees unobtainable except by blend on the broader market.

It is hard for the big Importers to match the small Fair Trade operations but in a limited way and for market image.