Fair Trade Coffee Offers a Solution to the Coffee Crisis Essay

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Fair Trade Coffee Offers a Solution to the Coffee Crisis

When you buy a cup of coffee in Starbucks every morning to keep you awake through the day, do you ever think of the origins of these coffee beans? How much of those three dollars you pay in Starbucks goes to the Farmers? Personally, I’m not a coffee-drinker. But somehow I realize the big sign in front of Java City in the Reitz Union Food Court, which says “Certified Fair Trade Coffee.” I’m surprised how few students know what it means. Currently, farmers in Brazil and Vietnam grow the majority of coffee beans.
These farmers then sell their beans to the middlemen who pay them low prices-an average of $0.3-0.4 per pound. The farmers are earning less or even losing for growing
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As a result, wholesale coffee prices are at their lowest levels in 100 years. Back in 1997, unroasted coffee beans that had a wholesale price of $2 a pound dipped to under 50 cents a pound in 2002, a price below many farmers’ production cost. Since farmers couldn’t afford the proper working conditions, the beans would be grown using the twelve most health-threatening types of pesticide. Furthermore, “With low prices, farmers tend to reduce inputs and take less care of the trees. In some cases this means that it is easier to cut down forest for plantations rather than care for existing ones,” said Néstor Osorio, executive director of the ICO (Roach). The farmers could not afford to improve organic growing conditions and develop higher quality coffee beans. It directly reduces the range of quality and varieties of coffee we are obtaining! According to Liam Brody, a program coordinator for Oxfam America in Boston, the situation was so adverse that “hundreds of thousands of coffee farmers in Africa and Central and South America have lost their jobs as farmland is converted to other agricultural uses such as livestock grazing or the cultivation of illicit drugs”(Roach).

To alleviate the coffee crisis, Fair Trade coffee is the most appropriate action. TransFair is the only organization in the United States to determine whether or not coffee beans meet fair trade standards- “an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per

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