According to Worldbank, nearly 80 percent of the world’s poor are farmers. The shocking reality that a significant number of the people who produce our food are going hungry themselves is the primary justification for the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade USA promotes a market-based approach that empowers farmers to get a fair price for their harvest, helps workers create safe working conditions, provides a decent living wage, and guarantees the right to organize. Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing, and invest in the future. Often, these efforts are accomplished through the work of cooperatives. These cooperatives benefit from sharing technical assistance, taking their products to market at the same time, and leveraging their buying and selling power to better their lives as well as the lives of their neighbors.
Today, 97 percent of all Fair Trade certified coffee is produced by cooperatives. The extra money these farms earn by banding together under the Fair Trade banner is then spent on life-changing community assets like healthcare, education, and roads.
October is Fair Trade Month. We celebrate our Fair Trade commitment everyday, but for this occasion, we’d like to spotlight the inspiring cooperatives we work with. Not only do these growers produce some truly excellent coffee, they are revolutionizing the coffee industry in their respective countries. By purchasing coffee from these co-ops, you are directly supporting a better life for farmers and their families.
In Colombia, we support the ASEMPROGROPE cooperative, a newly-formed cooperative focused on the participation of women in the coffee business. The director of the co-op is a woman, as are half of the board of directors.
In Ethiopia, we support the Nura Korate cooperative, a member of the larger Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. The SCFCU was founded in 2001 and supports members through training, marketing assistance, and developing producer-buyer relationships.
In Guatemala, we support the Chajulense Cooperative, whose mission is to “promote a sustainable development model that is environmentally sound, economically feasible, fair from a social point of view and appropriate from a cultural standpoint.”
In Mexico, we support the CESMACH cooperative. Members are committed to environmental protection and social development. They are planting new coffee trees and other fruit-bearing trees, as well as spearheading a project to teach leadership development and cooperative management to women members. The co-op recently completed construction on their dry processing plant.
In Nicaragua, we support the PRODECOOP. Cooperative member, Allan Arauz Alguilera says this about his involvement with the group: “Fair Trade has helped me buy more land and add improvements to our house. Now we have access to electricity, water and television, but most importantly, we have access to consistent income. It guarantees that there is food for our children.”
In Peru, we support CENFROCAFE. Beyond the vital technical support that the co-op provides, the CENFROCAFE financial team provides short-term credit that helps farmers cover the front-end costs of harvest and production equipment.
In Sumatra, we support the KBQB co-op, established in 2002 by 600 farmers in the highland district of Northern Sumatra. The cooperative’s name is Arabic and loosely translated means “getting to heaven through the wealth of our children.”
Seven Hills Coffee was among the very first Fair Trade coffee roasters in the United States, becoming Fair Trade certified in the fall of 1999. Since then, we have continued to expand our Fair Trade offerings, working with these and many more worthy cooperatives over the years. All of our Fair Trade certified coffee is also USDA certified organic, to promote environment stewardship and sustainable growing practices.
We’re so proud to be members of the Fair Trade movement and we hope that you will encourage your friends, family, or local barista to take part as well. October might be Fair Trade month, but supporting ethical and sustainable labor practices is the right thing to do all year round.