Can your morning cup of coffee help do more than just put a spring in your step? you bet it can – Fair Trade Coffee is now making a real difference to the lives of not only people across the globe – but also to the planet.
Small coffee growers have traditionally struggled make ends meet. In fact most growers rely heavily on finance from traditional sources such as banks in order to make purchases like fertilizer. One bad crop can mean financial disaster and the loss of a livelihood.
And that isn’t just a disaster for the grower – it’s a disaster for those workers who are dependent on the plantation for their income. In fact whole communities can be devastated by the failure of a small coffee growing concern.
Fortunately the Fair Trade coffee movement has changed the whole paradigm behind the coffee growing industry. By allowing small growers to come together as a collective Fair Trade coffee has harnessed the power of the many. As a collective Fair Trade coffee growers have far more muscle when it comes to bargaining. That means they can demand better prices for things like fertilizer and finance. In fact the Fair Trade movement also allows them to demand guarantees from those people who purchase and market the beans. that takes a lot of the stress out of the cyclical nature of coffee production.
The Fair Trade movement isn’t simply a slogan on the side of a bag of beans. It’s under the control of organizations in the United States of America and also in Europe. Not anyone can just slap a slogan on their beans. There are certain ways of doing business that have to be conformed to.
The rights of workers have to be respected. this means no transgressions like the use of child labor. It also means that there have to be best practices that conform to generally accepted practices around sustainability.
Each consumer will feel the effect of the policing of these standards. At an average of around a 10 cent premium per pound over brands of coffee that are not produced according to Fair Play principles this does actually make that cup of Joe a little more expensive. However that premium can change the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people.
In addition that extra little bit will protect the planet and other benefits are on www.springgreenartfest.com.
Of course Fair Trade cannot make sure that every single small producer conforms to the small print. For a global industry that is simply impossible. What the regulatory authorities can do is provide guidance and a broad set of principles that allow small producers to enjoy the blanket advantage of being part of a group with buying power that can only come from size. And it ensures that small plantations can stand the disruptions that will affect even the most stable of industries.
That little bit extra that consumers are paying seems really like small change when compared to the lives of a great many people.