Tomorrow, the CRS Coffeelands Blog turns 1. We won’t be able to publish the standard one-year-old birthday party picture of a wide-eyed baby with a face — and hands and hair and clothes — covered in icing and cake crumbs, but I did want to do something to observe the happy occasion.
I have published some critiques of Fair Trade Certification here in recent weeks, and have gotten some thoughtful and even-minded pushback about it both online and off. I feel compelled, as they say in the U.S. Congress, to “revise and extend my remarks” about Fair Trade. In so doing, I will turn for help to one of the great parliamentarians of the 20th century, and a small group of allies working to shape Fair Trade in the 21st.
Last week, the Seattle Times published an article on Direct Trade that did not reflect particularly well on Fair Trade Certification. Then a bad moment for Fair Trade was made worse when Sprudge cherry-picked the worst lines of the article, which had more than its share of unfortunate content.
FLO-CERT recently sent the following letter to smallholder farmer organizations regarding its new policy on unnannounced audits. While the idea of a surprise inspection seems reasonable, some of the conditions of the new FLO policy — both stated and unstated — raise some concerns.
Fair Trade organizations struggling to keep pace with the changing and increasingly rigorous requirements for Fair Trade Certification may be wondering how concerns over technical compliance have come to compete for their attention with efforts to ensure social impact.
I have been writing in recent weeks about the issue of hunger. You may be asking yourself what hunger has to do with coffee. Unfortunately, and notwithstanding the extraordinary advances made by the sustainable and certified coffee movements, hunger is still common in the coffeelands.
The “sustainable coffees” segment of the specialty market is more crowded than ever with certifications and concepts that advance different — sometimes competing — ideas about what constitutes sustainability when it comes to coffee. I believe that all these approaches generate benefits and move in the right direction. The question I struggle with is how much benefit they need to generate — and for whom — to be truly sustainable?
I have made my pre-conference picks for the highlights of the conference for anyone interested in the intersection between specialty coffee and development: lectures that seem to hold the most promise to illuminate some of the persistent challenges in the coffeelands — and some of the most promising approaches to addressing them. Biggest disappointment: nothing on the agenda about climate change and the threat it poses to specialty coffee.