The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Fernando Morales-de la Cruz, Founder, Café for Change.

The International Coffee Council of the International Coffee Organization meets in Mexico from 9 to 13 April at a time of crisis for coffee growers. They receive less than US $ 0.01 in net benefits per cup of coffee sold in “the north” while the multinationals that trade, toast and serve coffee generate more and more, tens of billions of dollars in annual profits.

This meeting of the ICO takes place while extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition and child labor in the coffee lands grow. The coffee industry is cruel. It has a neocolonial business model that concentrates benefits, added value and even most of the taxes in “the north” and has a very high and unacceptable human cost for the producing countries.

Coffee growers lose more than $ 30 billion per year and are struggling to survive in the coffee belt around the world due to the artificially low “market price” caused by market dominance of Swiss based traders and buyers (Swissploitation). Losses of income for coffee producers are calculated based on the 1983 coffee price adjusted by inflation.

The all mighty coffee multinationals: Nestle, JDE – JAB Holdings, Volcafe, NKG, ECOM, ELAM, Starbucks, Illy, Lavazza, etc. now pay, to the increasingly poor coffee growers, up to 60% less per pound of coffee, in real terms, than they did 1983. The current price of coffee reached only USD $ 1.17 per pound which is equivalent to 0.48 dollars of 1983. The price in 1983 was 1.20 to 1.40 dollars per pound, an amount that adjusted to inflation would be today 2.95 to 3.44 dollars per pound.

The so-called “certified coffee”, “Fair Trade”, “UTZ” and “Rainforest Alliance” has a price per pound for coffee farmers 50% lower than what they were paid 34 years ago, in 1983, then without the cost of false certifications. That coffee is neither fair, nor ethical, nor sustainable. It perpetuates the poverty of producers and deceives consumers in developed nations.

The current structures of the coffee, tea and cocoa trade, including that of the fake “Fairtrade” were created so that small and medium farmers and their children never reach prosperity. There is no possibility of guaranteeing thorough education or food security, even less the prosperity that farmers and their families deserve.

To put an end to this situation of economic injustice in CAFE FOR CHANGE we work tirelessly to create and implement We Share International, a transparent Shared Value system with compensation of at least 10CtsPerCup consumed in developed nations. This transparent mechanism will allow consumers to directly compensate producers to eradicate child labor and extreme poverty in the rural communities where their coffee, tea and cocoa are grown, and also to create a rural middle class, fruit of the farmers’ work.

The governments of developed nations, the UN and the OECD talk a lot about their unrestricted support for the defense of Human Rights, their respect for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, their commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, etc., but with every cup of coffee, tea and chocolate they consume, in the UN and in the OECD, they show that they practice and encourage the exploitation of the weakest with false campaigns like “Faitrade”, “Development Aid” and “sustainability”, which also fraud the consumers in these countries who finance them with their taxes.

The European Union is the largest financial beneficiary of extreme poverty and child labor in the rural regions that produce coffee and cocoa.

Switzerland has more children working in its supply chain of coffee, tea and cocoa than studying in all its schools in all the cantons of the Helvetic Confederation.

The United States says in all the forums that it wants to fight poverty in the world and stop migration for economic reasons but the largest North American multinationals: Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Mars, Walmart, Keurig Green Mountain, among many others, have increased their profits further impoverishing coffee farmers by paying them up to 60% less than they received in 1983.

Their initiatives of sustainability and “Fairtrade” are in many circumstances as cruel as slavery was. It is very sad. The model of having slaves was replaced by renting them. It’s much cheaper. There are workers in certified “Fairtrade” plantations in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Ivory Coast and in many other countries whose wages are of $ 1 per day. Child malnutrition in some “certified” coffee plantations has reached levels of between 70 and 90%. That is criminal and inhumane.

Even so, multinationals benefit from tens of millions of dollars in “development aid” from the European Union and its member states, from the United States, Canada, Norway and Switzerland. I cannot fail to mention that many NGOs that claim to fight poverty are financed by developed countries and multinationals to perpetuate the model of increasingly abundant and cheap raw materials from the coffee, tea and cocoa producing regions and to defend the false “Fairtrade”. OXFAM is the best example.

The role of the International Coffee Council and the International Coffee Organization in all this has been that of a silent witness and accomplice.

I hope that the next president of the International Coffee Council is very clear that the best way to strengthen the industry, the ICO and even coffee multinationals is to end the neocolonial model that exploits the weakest in this extremely profitable industry where no one should be extremely poor.

In this moment of prosperity for the industry, a transparent Shared Value system should be adopted with the support of the consumers to promote the eradication of extreme poverty in coffee growing regions and to put an end to the exploitation of nearly five million children who today serve as cheap labor in order to produce low-cost coffee, as the Swissploitation Club and the Swiss Government want it.

Compensating rural producers with transparent Shared Value of at least 10 cents per cup of coffee, tea and cocoa is not an act of charity, or “development aid”. It’s an act of justice.

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