Coffee farmers missing out on millions
Fairtrade-certified coffee producers around the world could earn about $270 million more each year if all of the coffee that’s certified Fairtrade was bought on Fairtrade terms.
A Fairtrade report has revealed only 33.8 percent of Fairtrade-certified coffee is bought on Fairtrade terms. This means hundreds of thousands of coffee farmers are missing out on a premium payment of US$0.44 per kilo of green coffee beans that goes into a communal fund for income support, farm improvements, healthcare and community projects.
Fairtrade is the only independently certified system in the world that requires coffee buyers to pay a minimum price as well as a premium paid directly to producers.
“I can only imagine what we could achieve in partnership with the coffee farmers in the Fairtrade system if 100 percent of their crops was sold under Fairtrade terms,” says Molly Harriss Olson, CEO, Fairtrade Australia New Zealand. “It’s not fair to expect farmers to produce a high-quality product but not get paid a premium for it.”
When coffee traders and roasters buy on Fairtrade terms, they invest in the communities that produce the coffee they buy. They pay a premium that injects much-needed funds into some of the world’s most remote farming communities, which can be used for coffee production improvements and community infrastructure such as roads and schools.
Papua New Guinea coffee farmer Mitchell Ricky, a member of the Highlands Organic Agricultural Cooperative in the remote Eastern Highlands, says, “From the Fairtrade Premium we get water supply for our villages, we get roofing irons, [coffee] pulping machines and classrooms for our kids.”
Approximately 150 Australian and New Zealand coffee traders and roasters currently buy coffee on Fairtrade terms. Some of these Fairtrade Premium payments benefit coffee farming communities in Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, which have some of the highest rates of people living in extreme poverty in the Pacific region.
Pacific producers need people buying coffee on Fairtrade terms more than ever, as more than one million people in the Pacific could be pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not okay that hundreds of farming communities growing Fairtrade crops are missing out on millions in Fairtrade Premiums because buyers are failing to purchase the coffee on Fairtrade terms,” says Karen Barnett, founder of Montville Coffee, one of Australia’s first Fairtrade-certified coffee roasters.
“When people benefit from the quality that Fairtrade-certified coffee delivers without paying a Fairtrade Premium for it, they are exploiting farmers and undermining a global system built on the principles of social justice, fairness and investing in the futures of farming communities in some of the world’s poorest countries.”