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31 May 2019
Bogotá – The leaders of Colombia and Fairtrade met yesterday [May 30] to discuss ways out of the global coffee price crisis which is driving millions of coffee farmers further into poverty.
Colombian President Iván Duque and Fairtrade International CEO Dario Soto Abril pledged to work together to get a fairer price for Colombia’s 600,000 growers – and the 25 million smallholder coffee farmers around the world who do not earn enough to afford a decent standard of living. The price of arabica beans, which make up around 60% of global production, has fallen to the point where many growers are selling at a loss.
“More than 70,000 Colombian coffee growers benefit from the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which allows them to adapt to the global coffee price crisis,” said Soto Abril. “But even they are really struggling to earn a decent income for themselves and their families. If coffee prices do not improve, many coffee farmers will abandon coffee in favour of illegal crops or migrate in search of a better future. By allowing producers to get ever poorer, the coffee industry is compromising its own future.”
The two leaders discussed ways to ensure that more of the price paid by consumers makes its way back to the farmers who grow the beans. The global coffee industry is now worth more than US$200 billion per year, but farmers’ incomes – when taking higher production costs into account – have actually declined.
“I impressed on President Duque that Fairtrade is committed to getting a fairer deal for small-scale coffee farmers and their workers around the world,” said Soto Abril. “That’s why we campaign for a living income based on what growers and their families need for decent standard of living.
“We all have a part to play to tackle this global coffee crisis,” he said. “The big multinational coffee companies have to step up and pay a fair price for their beans, and coffee lovers round the world need to demand more of what they pay for their favourite brew goes back to the farmers.”
Fairtrade is the only global sustainability label that guarantees a minimum price for coffee. Fairtrade certified coffee cooperatives currently earn the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per pound – about 40% more than the current market price – or $1.70 per pound organic. On top of that, they earn $0.20 per pound in Fairtrade Premium, of which at least 25 percent is invested in productivity and quality initiatives. Coops invest the rest in projects of their choice, ranging from processing facilities to community healthcare. Fairtrade coffee producers earned more than $94 million in Premium in 2017.