Sunday, March 09, 2008

Black Gold and Fairtrade

Today is the last day of Fairtrade Fortnight. Bournemouth University has organised a series of activities. Over the past two weeks, owners of fairtrade shops were invited and Poole Council representative said hopefully Poole can become a fairtrade town in a few weeks. What impressed me most of those activities was the movie, Black Gold, shown on campus. It's a documentary about the plight of Ethiopian coffee farmers and how fairtrade can help them. Here are some stunning statistics and information I jotted down while watching the film:

*20 billion cups of coffee are drunk everyday.

*Before Oromia Union (a co-operative system formed by Ethiopian coffee farmers) was in place, Ethiopian coffee will have to go through 6 chains to the hands of end consumers. The union helped remove 60% of the chain.

*Women working 8 hours picking coffee beans in Ethiopia earn less than one dollar a day.

*But "$0.57 a day would change our lives beyond recognition," a coffee farmer said.

*"Chat" or "khat" is a small shrub used to make narcotic drugs with a better price than coffee beans. Many coffee farmers in Ethiopia are forced to grow chat on their coffee farms to sustain their families.

* "We want to avoid death," said a coffee farmer who was forced to grow chat.

*Part of the unfair trade problem is caused by no subsidies to farmers in poor countries and subsidies to those in many developed countries.

*"Trade is more important than aide," an African representative emphasised in the Doha round WTO meeting.

*7 million people in Ethiopia depend on emergency food aide every year.

*Over the last 20 years, Africa's trade share in the world has fallen to only 1%.

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