I just watched a documentary, Black Gold, about how large corporations and the World Trade Organization continuously rape Africa and Ethiopia in particular. I immediately felt responsible because I know that corporations and people only do what they believe they can get away with. By purchasing products from these “evil” corporations I am passively saying that I accept your practices. In light of the BP Oilpocalypse Spill isn’t it time we (the consumer) become more aware of what we are buying and from whom?
Coffee connoisseurs agree, the best coffee in the world comes from Ethiopia. Globally, more than two billion cups of coffee are drunk everyday. Four multinational corporations dominate the world coffee market: Kraft, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, and Sara Lee. Together those 4 companies set and control prices while 17 million Ethiopian coffee farmers live in poverty. One cup of coffee sells for about $2.90 in Western countries. About 80 cups of coffee can be made from 1 kilo of coffee beans. The average farmer in Ethiopia gets at the most $0.57 per kilo.
It takes 7 grams or 50 beans to make a cup of espresso. If one bean is off low quality, the taste and aroma of the espresso will be over powered by the bad bean. To ensure that Ethiopian coffee is of the highest quality workers work full 8 hour shifts hand sifting coffee for about $0.50 a day.
In 2005, when this documentary was created, Starbucks who uses Ethiopian coffee reported a $3.67 billion profit. For generations the survival of entire communities have been based on coffee production. As prices continue to drop, the communities are not able to survive. The farmer’s co-operative use profits to create social changes in their communities like clean water and building health centers and schools. In a profit sharing meeting a young farmer said, “An educated person is good for him/herself, his/her family, and the whole country .”
Consumers could change the fate of all third world countries by demanding fair trade products. The cost to the consumer would be minimal, literally pennies more, but the impact would be inconceivable. “Aid would not be necessary if trade was fair”