Vodafone and Fairtrade coffee


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Mar 7, 2003
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Vodafone Netherlands has replaced all 1,500,000 cups of coffee their offices drink from some unreported brand to fairtrade brand. This is great knew for those fairtrade farmers that have begun exporting to Netherlands where fairtrade coffee trading is only a few years old.

More on the story here cellular-news.com
If it works...awsome....if the farmer actually gets the money that is....if you break down the pricing they get about an extra 3 grand a year...1,500,000 cups works out to about 15,000 pounds...which isn't that much....but three grand is still three grand.
Thats great as long as the farmer are using the extra dinero to update their harvesting equipment and to become more efficient at coffee farming. If they are not using it for those means, we are just prolonging inefficent farming methods, and supporting people who are wasting our natural resources. I wonder what people would think if I bought land in Mexico planted some coffee trees and used the most moderen techniques in cultivating and harvesting my beans, I bet in the long run I could sell my beans for less than traditional farmers who farm the same way Granpa did 150 years ago. I would probably be labled the bad guy buy these Fair Trade groups. Inefficent Farmers suck :x .

"Efficient" isn't bad but it's got to be tied to "sustainable". If Grandpa's method will still be working in another 150 years time while efficiency creates a desert for your children, I'd plump for the old ways. Actually, I don't think 'Fair Trade' mandates how the coffee is produced but just that the producers get a fair return for their labour - the 'Songbird' organisation (link elsewhere on this site) does seem to take the growing method into account and is, I think, worth considering.


ps. good for Vodaphone :D
The point being made in my last post is that if we farmed in the U.S. the same way we farmed 100 years ago we could not compete in a world market, heck if farmed the way we did 50 years ago we could not compete. I read an article about some coffee farmers in of all places Austrailia, they are on the cutting edge of coffee farming, I'll try to find a link to post to it because it was very informative. What was neat about it was that they were using these machines to harvest the coffee. It was cool. How does that turn into desert for my children?. If the coffee farming is inefficent then maybe theses farmers should grow something else. In the U.S farmers grow many crops in rotation I dont know the geographiacl landscape of the coffee area but it cant be the only crop that will grow in theses regions. I think your hearts in right place Wulf but I think that in the long term your ideas hold these people back and hurt the environment.

I don't know the methods that your describing as 'efficient' and I'm not a trained ecologist, so I'm not going out on a limb and saying that they will cause environmental havoc. Indeed, it could be argued that truly efficient farming takes a long term view and carefully considers its place in the ecological network. However, maximum yield that isn't qualified by minimal adverse environmental impact is dangerous. Consider the history of farming where 'efficient' has been regarded as synonymous with 'intensive' (and, FWIW, from Grandpa's generation):

Although dry spells are unavoidable in the region, occurring roughly every 25 years, it was the combination of drought and misuse of the land that led to the incredible devastation of the Dust Bowl years. Originally covered with grasses that held the fine soil in place, the land of the southern plains was plowed by settlers who brought their farming techniques with them when they homesteaded the area. Wheat crops, in high demand during World War I, exhausted the topsoil. Overgrazing by cattle and sheep herds stripped the western plains of their cover. When the drought hit, the land just blew away in the wind.

[Source: Surviving the Dustbowl, PBS]

The "extra dinero" from Fairtrade coffee is first and foremost to ensure that the farmers receive a decent wage for their labour. Hopefully the fact that they can envisage a future in growing coffee (rather than subsisting until they turn to other pursuits) will encourage them to invest in efficient, sustainable methods of production.