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What’s THAT in your coffee?

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

What’s THAT in your coffee?

When you next buy a $3 cappuccino, the coffee farmer who grew the beans won’t even get three cents. Around 25 million coffee farmers across the world are facing economic ruin while the giant roasters make huge profits.

To highlight the crisis and to raise public awareness about fair trade, Oxfam and Trade Aid have organised this week’s exciting line-up of events – Fair Trade Week. Ato (Mr) Tadesse Meskela, head of the Oromiya Coffee Co-op in Ethiopia, is featuring in a speaking tour around New Zealand.

Ato Tadesse is giving a first hand account of the worst ever coffee crisis that is affecting 25 million farmers and their families around the world. The fair trade speaking tour started in Dunedin on Monday May 3, then moved to Christchurch on Tuesday, May 4, and is in Wellington on Wednesday, May 5 and Auckland on Thursday, May 6.

Fair Trade Fiestas are happening between midday and 2pm on Friday May 7 in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin with a procession to public squares by donkeys laden with coffee sacks accompanied by Oxfam supporters and world music. Supporters will be offering free samples of fresh fair trade coffee.

On Saturday May 8, Trade Aid stores throughout New Zealand are holding New Zealand’s Biggest Morning Tea.

“The price of coffee has almost halved in the past three years to a 30-year low,” said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. “Coffee farmers are in a really desperate situation – they are being forced to take children out of school, sell off their land and are struggling to feed their families”,
he added.

Meanwhile the ‘big four’ roaster companies – Nestlé, Sara Lee, Procter & Gamble and Kraft – control almost half the world’s coffee crop, with a turnover of more than $2 billion.

“This is an acid test of whether globalisation can be made to work for the poor. Those involved in the coffee trade know there is terrible human suffering at the heart of their business. They need to be part of the solution,” said Coates.

“The coffee industry needs a reminder that the people who enjoy drinking their coffee also care about the livelihoods of the people who grow the crop,” said Geoff White, General Manager of Trade Aid Importers.

“Coffee drinkers can help by buying fair trade products and by persuading their places of work, local councils, supermarkets and cafes to stock Fair Trade products, starting with coffee.”


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