What are flower farmers doing at a coffee convention?!

Discussing the future of Fair Trade coffee

05/04/2012 - 11:50 AM

For the past 24 years, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has held a conference to be the coffee professional’s one stop shop for everything needed to succeed in the coffee industry. Historically this conference had only been for coffee roasters and importers, but over the past decade Fair Trade USA has changed this by enabling small-scale coffee producers to attend. This has created a ‘global-handshake’, connecting coffee farmers with those who roast and sell their products. 

Fair Trade USA producers forum at SCAA 2012
Record turnout for the Fair Trade USA producer Forum at SCAA

This year at SCAA’s 24th Annual Exhibition & Symposium in Portland, Fair Trade USA helped make history again by hosting a forum that included every step of the coffee supply chain, from origin to shelf. Attendees included:

  • members of over 100 small farmer coffee cooperatives
  • farm workers from both flower and coffee estates
  • non-profit organizations who provide financing, business training and social programs to farming communities
  • businesses who demonstrate their commitment to ethical coffee sourcing through their sales of Fair Trade Certified products

Discussion focused on how to improve Fair Trade in an effort to impact the lives of more farmers and farm workers. Cooperative farmers indicated their need to remain competitive, but also expressed their desire to see everyone in their community have the opportunity to benefit from Fair Trade. Whether their neighbor is a small farmer who is not able to join a cooperative or a worker who doesn’t own any land and therefore needs to work on a large farm to earn a living, farmers agreed that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Workers from the Hoja Verde & Agrogana flower estates in Ecuador answered questions all weekend about how their fellow workers democratically choose how to allocate their premiums and how their entire community has benefitted from Fair Trade.

“I feel so happy and proud to be at this event, sharing my story with the coffee industry.  Working for a Fair Trade Certified farm has greatly improved my working and living conditions. I hope that our experience serves as a powerful example for the coffee industry.” Maria Elvia Almachi, Agrogana Flower Farm, Ecuador

From pediatric care to micro-financing, these women have seen the benefits of Fair Trade Certification grow over the years and provided valuable insight into the long-term community development effects. The success of Fair Trade Certification for flower and tea estates inspired Fair Trade USA to introduce pilot programs for coffee farms.

Workers from the first pilot Fair Trade Coffee estate came from Brazil to provide early insights into the impact of Fair Trade. As the model has only been applied to one estate so far, everyone in attendance was eager to hear from this group.

Luir Fontes of Fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima, the first Fair Trade pilot coffee estate in Brazil
Luir Fontes of the Fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima pilot Fair Trade coffee estate

The workers received a standing ovation as they shared how Fair Trade has already improved their community by enabling some workers to visit the dentist and ophthalmologist for the first time in their lives.

Fair Trade USA achieved an important goal at SCAA’s event this year by connecting all parts of the coffee supply chain in order to engage in conversation about how we can all work together to deepen and expand the benefits of Fair Trade. When independent coffee farmers, cooperative members, and workers from large estates are all excited about working towards a common goal, we know the future is bright for Fair Trade.

Fair Trade Certified coffee & flower farmers, Fair Trade USA staff, coffee roasters and coffee buyers
Coffee roasters, buyers, and farmers; Flower farmers; Fair Trade USA staff

05/04/2012 - 11:50 AM
04/30/2012 - 9:56 AM