The study on the economic impacts of Fair Trade and organic certifications that appeared in a recent issue of Ecological Economics has prompted some good, informed discussion, but also its share of distortion. After carefully reading (and re-reading) the study, here is my take on it as someone who works with both certified and non-certified […]
Last week, articles in mainstream and industry media outlets on the economic impacts of Fair Trade on smallholder farmers caused something of a furor among coffee cognoscenti. The most serious discussion seemed to revolve around this study published in Ecological Economics. Unfortunately, in the squabble over certifications most people missed what was easily the most […]
At last month’s SCAA Symposium, we were invited to reexamine our assumptions about sustainability in coffee — what we think we know about the issue that may not be true. At the time, I thought that exercise produced some provocative responses. And then I read a recent study on the impacts of organic and Fair […]
SCAA 2011 preview – the view from the coffeelands.
Last week I made the not-so-bold prediction that 2011 will be The Year of the GCQRI. Today I consider whether that is an entirely good thing.
2011 will be the Year of the GCQRI.
Critics have seized on recent findings on hunger in the coffeelands as evidence of Fair Trade’s failure. I see it more as a failure to understand the complexities of hunger, to communicate appropriately and to set fair expectations for Fair Trade.
Several dozen of the most influential and quality-obsessed people in the coffee industry are gathered this week in College Station, Texas, for the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative (GCQRI) Symposium — the first step in launching a massive, five-year collaborative research project involving industry, bilateral donor agencies and research institutes and designed to increase the availability of high-quality coffee. Here are some links to very good real-time coverage of the event from people who are participating.
I recently shared the perspectives of a pair of Q-grader cuppers on where quality comes from — perspectives that left out most of what coffee farmers do. Their perspectives are informed, but are not the only ones on an issue around which there is no real consensus. Today, a different take on the issue that attributes more of the quality of your coffee to how farmers grow it.
Farmers in El Salvador, which has few remaining natural forests, waning water resources and precious little high-altitude terrain, are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change. That’s why many are making short-term changes to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on their farms and adopting water-efficient post-harvesting technology. The coffee sector in El Salvador is also investing in breeding more resistant varieties.