Posts Tagged ‘small farmer co-operatives’

“We’re better than fair trade.” “We’re beyond fair trade.” “Ours is direct trade.”

If you’re a coffee buyer trying to choose your brand, chances are you’re familiar with these refrains. How, then, do we sort through all the seals, messages, and marketing promotions to make the right purchase? Clearly, we select our coffee by its quality, the flavor profile and roast, as well as how much comes out of our pocket. But for just a moment, if we set aside our personal taste preferences and economic realities, what do we look for next?

Is it the price which the company pays the farmer that counts? Or how many times the buyer visits the farmer and the relationship that is formed? Perhaps it is the size of the donation for a school or health clinic given to a farming community or a scholarship for a farmer’s child? (more…)

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As a result of a reader’s comment to the previous story, I’ve decided to write a new entry which attempts to further highlight what is so important about small farmer co-operatives and what the differences are between companies who see farmers as partners and those who see them as suppliers.

The questions he asks give me another chance to talk about a group of farmers that has really inspired me and helped renew my conviction that the path we are on – weaving together good business strategies that support urgently needed social change – is absolutely the right one.

To me, the power of this story is in how clearly it illustrates the clash between two world views: the organizational development strategy of a coffee producing co-operative of small-scale farmers and the buying strategy of a large, multi-national coffee company. At Equal Exchange, we believe that these world views don’t have to clash. In fact, we built our organization on the belief that the success of our farmer partners – and our U.S. partners – is also our success. (more…)

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What on earth is this Big Change that Equal Exchange keeps alluding to when we talk about small farmers? Why does Equal Exchange buy our products only from small farmer co-operatives? Why do we feel so strongly about supporting the farmers’ efforts to promote change in their lives, co-operatives and communities?

The following is a story about how a group of farmers from Jaltenango, Chiapas took an interest in growing organic coffee, overcame many obstacles, formed a co-operative, and then overcame many more obstacles. They found an important buyer to purchase their coffee and took a huge risk by terminating their contract when the buyer began to overstep its bounds and impose practices the co-operative felt undermined their development efforts in the zone. (more…)

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As if there weren’t enough happening in Peru, the country has been experiencing torrential rains, heavy flooding, landslides and mudslides in the central highlands and the jungle provinces that have caused at least 20 deaths, extensive damage to crops, and the destruction of many roads and bridges.

We recently received this brief note from Santiago Paz, Manager of CEPICAFE, one of our coffee trading partners in northern Peru: (more…)

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I would like to share a highly inspiring story from Nicaragua of solidarity between unemployed farm workers and a small-scale farmer co-operative that Equal Exchange has partnered with for over 15 years.

In the early 1990s when the coffee crisis was most severe, conventional coffee companies were paying farmers as little as 45 cents per pound. With costs of production about twice that high, plantations throughout Nicaragua were going bankrupt. Landowners abandoned their estates and many thousands of coffee pickers had nowhere to work and no way to feed their families. Malnutrition throughout the country was high and 14 children died in 2002, literally from lack of food. (more…)

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