Poverty In Your Cup Of Coffee

Poverty In Your Cup Of Coffee

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The word "poverty" can be defined as the state of having little of money, materials, and the lack of productiveness. Then adding poverty to coffee would mean that there is a lack of productiveness not only in coffee but in what farmers receive in return. Farmers around the world are getting poorer from a beverage that is being bought every second in the world. This unfairness is from the lack of fair trade that is going on throughout the world. Companies and everyday people should get to know how it is important to do fair trade especially to those who cultivate our coffee and support their families.
There are about 25 million coffee producers around the world and 50 percent of their coffee prices have fallen for the past three years (Background: Coffee). This indicates that the amount of money that the farmers receive from selling their coffee to other companies has lowered at an increase rate. As a result this becomes very disastrous because they are selling their beans more than the cost of what it takes to produce coffee beans. Then when the coffee beans are then sold to a company they receive little money from them, then that company would resale the beans for a much more price gaining profits which will never be given to the farmers. For example, a coffee farmer in Tanzania made about $60 from a production of coffee for a year, which its only 16 cents a day, this amount of money could not be able to cover the costs of producing more coffee beans and even to provide for his/her own family (Coffee Market).
Family, each coffee farmer has to work in order to provide for its own family but working in the fields picking beans all day long does not help these farmers to earn a living that would help them buy food for the family. Also, the adults aren't the only ones whom have to work in order to have money to buy food even the children have to work for their family. Oxfam, a committee for famine relief, had interviewed Vietnamese, East Africans, and Peruvians farmers stating that the coffee prices are the problem that intervenes with education for their children. Parents don't have the money to pay for education, uniforms, food, and books for school.

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Especially in Uganda where the coffee production is very dependent to the country's economy which makes parents not able to send their children to school due to lack of money from coffee production. A boy from Uganda named Bruno said, "I will just be left here, growing a little food. I have been sent home again and again from secondary school … They just send you away if you don't have the fees …This is the main coffee season. Everyone used to go back to school with the money from coffee, but now the money is not there. The price is so low people are not even picking coffee… I wish the people who use our coffee could give us a better market. All I want is to go to school" (Farmers' Stories). The number of students is getting too low and more are going to the fields to work. Children, especially girls, have to stop going to school and work in order to afford food and medicine for the family. Mainly boys have the ability to go to school but an average of one child per family could be able to attend.
In Central America, like Honduras, hundreds of children were hospitalized due to loss of jobs from a drought that caused the coffee farms not to produced beans. Oxford Analytica reports, "Hunger has become a common place in Central America…drought has seriously hit basic grain production..." Working is very crucial, if there is nothing to work on because a drought there will be no money for the cultivators and for the families. The EU and USAID had reported in January of 2002 that there an increase of poverty and food shortages for the coffee farmers in Ethiopia. It was also said that the Ethiopians were even cutting down their food so that they can have enough money to produce their grains (Mugged, pg. 10). Health care has worsened due to lack of money which becomes very dangerous due to raise of HIV/AIDS infected people for example there is an estimation of over three million Ethiopians that are now affected with the virus due to no health education and help. People have to pay for treatment, health, and medicine costs from their own pockets which are extremely high. The most melancholy about these health costs is that it leads families to decide which of its family members deserves to be treated.
Due to the lack of sales of coffee in Peru, Columbia, and Bolivia, many coffee farmers are now growing coca instead. Coca is a raw material for which cocaine is made from the leaves. Cocaine for which is mainly used a drug for its euphoric and stimulating effects. There is a growing of sale of cocaine much more than coffee beans. "People are definitely replacing coffee with coca…Coffee is a waste of time from a strictly economic point of view…it brings violence-assaults and rape. It also brings prostitution and gang warfare," Ing. Guillermo Lopez in Sauce, Peru (Mugged, pg. 12). If more people rely on growing cocaine, it'll be much worse than coffee even if there is money being made. Producing drugs can destroy many lives and corrupt many people.
Farmers barely receive their share of the profits they should receive. The coffee farmers only receive one per cent or less of the price the coffee is sold in a coffee bar. The coffee that is sold in the supermarkets and grocery stores are roughly six percent of the price a pack of coffee. Oxfam have reported from farmers that they had to accept any price offers from traders which gives them a little power to be able to negotiate how much money they want to receive from the beans. Carmela Rodriguez, a Peruvian farmer says about the trader, "…I think they are taking advantage of us because they know we have to sell ‘the coffee beans' to them."
An example on how the costs that go into the price of the coffee through interviews in Uganda provided by Oxfam. First, the coffee farmer would receive 12 U.S. cents per kilogram of beans without processing. Then the beans would go through traders at a price $1.64 per kilogram before going to the roaster factory. Then if the beans become soluble coffee for supermarkets it would be sold for $26.40 per kilogram. Through its journey from the gate of the farm to the store the price would have raised about 7000 per cent. Then sold in the US in roasted and ground coffee it would be 4000 per cent more in prices. This means that the company which sells the coffee to supermarkets gets more profits than those who cultivate and gather the beans, the farmers (Mugged, pg. 22).
There has an increase of coffee sells due to more different flavors in coffee. Roasters are now buying millions of coffee bags that affect developing countries. The roaster companies gain profits by gaining the volumes they buy, from the strength of their brands and products, from cost control, from their ability to mix and match blends and from the use of financial tools gives them the ability to buy. The five companies: Kraft, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble and Sara Lee, are the top buyers that buy half of the world's supply of beans. The brands that these five companies own give them more power due to its famous names such as Nescafe which consumers and retailers buy the most.
Now in order to have these farmers around the world to have fair treatment is to have Fair Trade. Having fair trade can help reduce poverty but a system of rules is needed so it can be followed. The main object so it can work is that the coffee market must work for all. Mistakes that were made in the past must be used as a lesson and the mistakes that are made now should be learned in order to avoid doing the same mistakes. Participation by every one including the poor and the rich could negotiate the prices on the coffee beans. A Coffee Rescue Plan has been called for by Oxfam to make the coffee market work with both the rich and poor to create a stable market. If the Rescue Plan succeeds, poverty among those who cultivate coffee beans will soon be treated fairly and be able to support its families. They would soon be paid a decent price on their production The farmers get the chance to be educated on how to farm coffee beans with better ways and how to cultivate other alternative crops (Mugged, pg. 49).
Campaigns such as Oxfam, One, Make Trade Fair, and Make Poverty History are one of the most influential organizations that help people around the world from poverty. People are getting to know the truth about poverty in coffee and how people are being affected. Now there are ways to find products that are Fair Trade which means that when one buys these products the people who produced the beans are given fair profits from it. To buy Fair Trade coffee they are being sold in one of the most famous coffee sellers call Dunkin Donuts especially espresso beverages (Oxfam, Donuts). Dunkin Donuts has participated the campaign of Free Trade which the beverages they sell are from farms that are getting almost equal shares of profits.
In conclusion, many people including companies should learn how these farmers from third world countries are treated unfairly with what they produce for the world. Chris Martin, famous activist from Coldplay said, "If a few companies were less greedy, the people at the bottom would have a lot more. We can all do our bit by buying Fair Trade products and pressuring politicians to change this insanity, to make trade fair." (Fair Trade). This is true because we must have trade fair to everyone and doing so we must need help from organization that would represent those who can't help themselves.

Works Cited

"Background: Coffee." Oxfam America. Retrieved 13 Mar. 2006.

"Coffee Farmers' Stories: Bruno and Michael Selugo, Uganda." Oxfam Australia. Retrieved 13 Mar. 2006.

"Fair Trade." University of Bristol Union. Retrieved 14 Mar. 2006.

DaSilva, Helen. Oxfam America Salutes Dunkin' Donuts Announcement of New Line of Fair Trade Espresso Beverages. 26 Apr. 2003 Oxfam America. Retrieved 15 Mar. 2006.

Gresser, Charis and Sophia Tickell. Mugged: Poverty in your Coffee Cup. Oxfam International, 2002.

Brown, Oliver, Celine Charveriat, and Dominic Eagleton. The Coffee Market: A Background Study. Oxfam: International Commodity Research, 2000. ii
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