WHERE: Equal Exchange, 1033 SE Main, Portland, Oregon
WHEN: Thursday, November 17, 2011
TIME: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
About the Film
Coffee is the second most valuable commodity traded on the global market. It is exported by developing countries to wealthy developed countries, where the majority of the coffee is consumed. Many farmers who grow coffee are paid very low prices and workers in the commodity chain often earn less than a dollar per day in this multi-billion dollar industry.
In spite of increasing prices for retail coffee, prices paid to producers have declined drastically. A small handful of conglomerates who dominate the coffee the market, the world’s wealthiest stock exchanges, and the elite members of the WTO play a significant role in determining prices for the commodity vital to the economy and livelihoods of millions in the developing world.
The producers of “Black Gold” could no longer standby and wait for someone else to tell the story of the dire situation faced by the thousands of families who rely on coffee production. They met a man named Tadesse Meskele whose mission is to find sustainable solutions for coffee farmers in Ethiopia by breaking down the barriers to fair trade and finding buyers around the world who are willing to pay fair prices. Tadesse also wants consumers to understand where their coffee came from and how their consumption choices impact producers.
Tadesse grew up in rural Ethiopia outside of the capital Addis Ababa. His determination to rise out of poverty motivated him to excel in school and gain entrance to a university. Now, he is the general manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union and represents over 100 farm co-ops. His goal is to not only help coffee farmers receive fair prices for production but also to be influential in making the global market work for everyone.
After the film, guests will be invited to participate in a discussion in which Rafael, from Equal Exchange, will share more about the coffee trade, how it affects farmers and the ethical challenges the industry faces. This is a great opportunity for people of all ages to get educated about where their joe comes from.
He’ll be discussing parallels how non fair trade coffee and fair trade coffee effect farmers around the world and present the facts about:
- Fair trade vs. direct trade
- Fair Trade ‘fairwashing’ in the movement
- Equal Exchange fair trade practices
- New product sampling of fair trade Palestinian Olive Oil and California Almonds
Fair Trade and Direct Trade Principles - A Primer for the Discussion
Fair Trade Principles (from Green America’s “Guide to Fair Trade”)
Fair Prices - A fair price is set for commodities such as coffee and cocoa to ensure that farmers and producers can: Cover the cost of production; Meet their living needs; Develop and improve their communities.
Empowerment and Self-Sufficiency - Farmers and producers are empowered and self-sufficient by: Creating accountability and transparency; Ensuring farmers have a voice; Giving farmers control of revenue management and community investment funds.
Investment in Community and Cultural Tradition - Fair Trade prices include a “social premium” for community development and preservation of tradition and culture so that: Projects such as schools, health clinics, and women’s programs are funded; Artisan producers get access to markets for the traditional handicrafts or apparel.
Women’s Participation - Fair wages paid equally to both men and women encourage women’s leadership in cooperatives and results in: Options to work outside the home; Greater economic independence and less dependence on aid; Additional prosperity for the community.
Friendly Environmental Practices - Encourage farmers and producers to adhere to international standards for environmental protection by: Providing financial incentives and resources for organic farming, water conservation, and education; Using price premiums to install low water consumption irrigation systems, crop rotation programs, and proper waste handling.
Personal and direct communication - Establish long term relationships with small farmers so that: Buyers and producers collaborate and directly communicate to develop prices; Buyers can assess ecological practices and working conditions; Buyers learn about the people and culture in farming communities.
Fair Prices - Buyers pay a fair price, set by discussions with growers to ensure: Premium quality; Production expenses are covered.
Transparency - Accountability and transparency is established throughout the supply chain so that: Expectations and responsibilities are clearly understood; Financial information is not obscured.
Financial Incentives - Payment above the [fair] floor price encourages and rewards quality in order to: Promote high quality premium coffee; Maintain a high standard for consumers who are willing to pay premium prices for higher quality coffee.