Fair Trade Coffee: Important to Millions Of Lives
This extreme popularity, the drink is consumed by a large percentage of the world’s population every day, makes how coffee is traded important to the millions of people involved in producing it.
Problems with the Coffee Trade
Around 25 million people depend on growing coffee for their livelihoods. However, these people have not always been treated fairly concerning the prices they were paid for their crops.
First, a little historical background is necessary. In 1962, the United Nations agreed to adopt the International Coffee Agreement and the International Coffee Organization. Prior to these agreements, coffee prices fluctuated wildly from year to year and even season to season.
These agreements were designed to help control supply and the costs of the commodity. The idea behind the agreements was that if these factors could be controlled, farmers could earn decent money from the crop. This would make the large countries producing coffee stay away from adopting communist governments. When the Cold War ended the United States stopped enforcing the agreements, and they lost most of their importance.
During the 1990s, demand for coffee rose. Because of this, farmers were encouraged to produce more coffee than ever. This resulted in a surplus of coffee. This surplus, along with the decline of the UN agreements, sent coffee prices downward. Prices hit an all time low in 2001. Despite these low prices, and farmers seeing very little money for their work, coffee drinkers saw no change in the price they paid for coffee and distributors raked in record profits.
Many farmers lost their land or gave up out of lack of hope. Others turned to more lucrative, illegal crops.
How Fair Trade Coffee Helps
Fair trade coffee seeks to improve the situation of coffee farmers. Fair trade certified products ensure that farmers and workers producing coffee receive a fair price for their crops. It helps the farmers to make enough money to feed their families. It also helps them to put more money back into their farms and community and lift more people out of poverty.
The farmers who earn a Fair Trade Certification can earn as much as two to three times the amount the farmer would have made on the open market.
Supporting Fair Trade
Fair trade coffee doesn’t have to cost consumers more money, and it usually costs within the same price range as similar coffees. Many farmers have formed cooperatives to sell their coffee, instead of relying on the middlemen that can take much of the profits.
The best thing a consumer can do is to educate themselves about the issue. Look for coffee and other products that are Fair Trade Certified. If you have difficulties finding these products, ask your local stores to carry them. It is also important to encourage others to do the same. Spread the word through social media or other sources to let others know about the issue and what they can do to help.
Understanding how your purchases affect others around the world can make a huge difference in lives of others around the world. Buying coffee produced by farmers who are compensated fairly for their product improves many lives and will cost you little.