Recently, the global coffee market has fallen into a profound crisis. Prices paid to coffee producers in real dollar terms, have fallen to a hundred year low. Many families have been forced to abandon traditional farming. There is consequently an important wave of unemployment in the farming sector which is creating more candidates for emigration to the ‘Norte'.
Meanwhile, a growing percentage of small-scale coffee farmers have found a solution to the crisis. They have become Fair trade certified coffee producers, meaning that they have agreed to follow a set of social and environmental standards in the production of their coffee. For these efforts they receive a guaranteed price for their coffee which is higher than that for conventionally produced coffee. Fair trade has enabled these farmers to survive the crisis and think about the future while their neighbours out of this system have a future that will probably involve crossing the Sonora desert.
The interest in analyzing the current situation is to determine the possibilities that fair trade offer to resolve the crisis, and to see if it can work in the long run to save families who produce it, from hunger and exploitation. We do not really know its full potential as the market for fair trade products appeared only a few years ago. After Europe, North America is the new centre of the phenomena. But is it really due to a profound civic sense of consumers, or is it only a fashionable phenomenon?
This essay will try to give a response to these questions. First, we will analyse more deeply the current situation for the majority of small scale producers in Latin America by looking at the crisis and its consequences on an already weak system. Then, we will underline how Fair trade can benefit those traditionally forgotten populations of the world by empowering them. Finally we will present the weaknesses of Fair trade and how they can be overcome.
[...] First, we will analyse more deeply the current situation for the majority of small scale producers in Latin America by looking at the crisis and its consequences on an already weak system. Then, we will underline how Fair trade can benefit those traditionally forgotten populations of the world by empowering them. Finally we will present the weaknesses of Fair trade and how they can be overcome. The central target of this study is not fair trade but the producing populations of Latin America; nevertheless it appears that their destinies are profoundly linked. [...]
[...] Fair trade has enabled these farmers to survive the crisis and invest in the future. II. Fair trade and organic production as the main solution to the current situation Fair trade market expansion, the development of anti-globalisation movements and by much other aspect; since Seattle and the first ‘global' anti-globalisation struggle in 1999, there has been a ‘birth' of civic sense in international trade. The powerful free trade system is not any more the target of just a few writers but of a growing number of people from both hemispheres of the world. [...]
[...] The amelioration of the situation of small scale producers of coffee (or banana, tea, cocoa ) in Latin America and in the world in general, requires more than merely consumers' consciousness or sympathy. It requires a global consciousness of unfair trade, of a politically unstable Third World, of unjust societies and many other ‘un-'problems. ‘Un'-til that time, many poor people will cross the Solana desert. Most of ‘lucky' ones, who survive it, will end up re-exploited in the U.S.A! Sources Books: Barrah Brown M. [...]
[...] Moreover it concerns a large population: three hundred coffee grower associations, representing five hundred thousand producers and their families, almost 30% of the world's small- scale coffee growers of fair trade coffee comes from Latin America where Mexico is by far the single largest national supplier. So the communities which benefit from fair trade are largely found in Central America. First of all, the main beneficiaries of fair trade are individual producers. Although, the higher price paid for fair trade coffee is of the most direct benefit to the small-scale farmer, there are a range of less visible benefits. [...]
[...] The role of women remains in activities outside the coffee sector. They are coffee producers in only a few cooperatives, although many women are employed as labourers at harvest. Traditional cultures in this part of the world have relegated women to a limited range of income generating activities. There needs to be greater clarification of what gender issues Fair trade hopes to address. Finally, we can underline other problems. Labelling and an emphasis on marketing is leading fair trade away from its movement origins. [...]
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