Last week the Christian Science Monitor published an article highlighting the economic pressures on Latin America’s organic coffee farmers: Organic coffee: Why Latin America’s farmers are abandoning it / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com.
Just as Fair Trade designed their program to attract coffee growers through the promise of financial incentives, once they made initial certification investments, organic certification has also been promoted as a way for them to earn higher margins for their crops. However, over the past few years — while Wal-Mart became the nation’s largest buyer of Fair Trade/organic decaffeinated coffee — the premiums paid for organic coffee have shrunk.
The economics of growing organic coffee in Latin America are now causing some farmers to “switch sides”. We’ve long been rather ambivalent about Fair Trade’s potential to live up to many of its good intentions. Although you could argue that “organic” is just another flawed solution attempted through the magic wand of certification, its aims and goals always seemed much more realistic and achievable.
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