Did you know that by drinking coffee you can contribute to the protection of the environment, fair trade and good working conditions for the poorer parts of the world? Find out more about Fair Trade.
Half a dollar a day
Certainly many will be saddened by the fact that a large number of coffee plantation workers earn a day … half a dollar. Another information may also be depressed; when you buy a packet of coffee, the producer receives a very small percentage of the price you pay. The reason is a long (but if necessary?) Chain of intermediaries. The life of coffee producers is very difficult not only for economic reasons, but also due to the effects of climate change such as droughts, weather anomalies, floods, a multitude of new diseases and pests. Issues related to weather can significantly hamper the cultivation of aromatic seeds. It is the coffee producers who are most affected by these changes. And this is just one of many of their problems …
Fair trade instead of help
Fair Trade It is an organized movement that was created to improve the situation of manufacturers of various products, including coffee. These producers are simply farmers working in developing countries. The movement also deals with the promotion of sustainable development. An interesting fact is that the pillar of Fair Trade is not charity, help, but the introduction to trade and the promotion of rules based on morality. The main goal is to ensure that a healthy commercial relationship exists between the poor countries of the south and the more prosperous regions of the world. The flagship slogan Fair Trade is „Trade not Aid”, so „Trade instead of help”.
Fair Trade? But why all this fuss?
Imagine that in many poor countries where coffee is produced, children are involved in its cultivation, sometimes even several years. There are also cases of slave labor. Farmers who grow coffee beans usually receive very low wages. Therefore, they are unable to support their families or to ensure children’s good education. These are the situations where they explain the origin of the statement that „poverty is hereditary”. Children deprived of a good start, they duplicate the fate of their parents.
Another problem of many countries in which coffee is produced is the lack of direct access to the market. Many of these countries are under the control of huge corporations. And even if it is not, the road to the final recipient of coffee passes through a long queue of middlemen. With this type of production devoid of morality, the issues of caring for the natural environment are also not taken into consideration.
The basic standards of Fair Trade
Thanks to the standards defined by Fairtrade Intenational (owner of the Fairtrade certification mark, written together) standards have been defined which must be met for the coffee to be certified. The most important of them are:
- Fair price of the product, thanks to which the farmer is able to provide a decent life to his family;
- The right social conditions – freedom to choose a place of work, working conditions that do not threaten health and life, lack of work of a slave character and the prohibition of child labor, justice of wages for women and men.
- Fair trading practices such as: shorter chain of intermediaries, fast payment, advances related to the purchase of materials.
- Providing producers with bonuses.
- The guarantee of long-term contracts and control in terms of observing Fair Trade rules.
Idea Fair Trade guarantees small local producers fixed purchase prices, no unnecessary intermediaries, exclusion of large corporations. Thanks to this, the profit goes to the manufacturer in a much larger amount than is the case with the standard process. All of this contributes to strengthening the market position of local producers. They become competitive, live and work in decent conditions.
Supporting the Fair Trade idea
Cafes can make a contribution to improving the living conditions of people in poor countries. If a large restaurant is not interested in products that do not have a certificate Fairtrade will hinder the development of this sector. It is important to develop awareness among coffee distributors. They often provide coffees with coffee machines, and this obliges them to buy coffee of a given brand only. It is worth giving up this kind of addiction. Cafes can promote coffee Fair Trade also by displaying these products at their headquarters, or even by posting information about them on the menu.
System Fairtrade brings together over 800,000 local coffee makers from 30 countries around the world. Thanks to their participation, farmers have access to professional knowledge about agriculture and to funds that contribute to adapting cultivation methods to the changing climate. Thanks to this, the harmful effects of weather anomalies are minimized. The premium provided by Fair Trade is an addition to the purchase price provided. In the years 2013-2014, its total amount exceeded EUR 49 million.
Remember that reaching for the Fairtrade coffee we show support to small local producers. We can buy this coffee in some cafes, world stores, ecological food stores, via the Internet, as well as in some hypermarkets.
More curiosities can be found at: fairtrade.net