What is Fair Trade coffee? Good question



A BBC article, accessed March 13, 2020, is entitled: “The ‘invisible’ women at the heart of the chocolate industry. In the cacao orchards of Ivory Coast, women do most of the work for just a small portion of the income. Now, they are calling time on patriarchal attitudes.”

An excerpt reads:

Patriarchal attitudes often exclude them from decision making, land ownership, and the all-important stage of selling the crop. Legally landless and therefore not considered “farmers”, women’s ability to join co-operatives, receive training, access finance, and improve their lives, is limited.

“It’s really hard being a female cocoa farmer,” says farmer Salimata Diakite in Dramanekro village. “Women do everything, right until the cocoa dries. But the men take the cocoa, sell it, and are never accountable towards women.”

This has prompted the Fairtrade Foundation to say women in West African cacao are often “invisible”. Across all developing countries, rural women work longer hours, but have only a fraction of the land, credit, inputs and training, says the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Now though, a tenacious group of female farmers is turning the tables with the help of a pioneering Women’s School of Leadership (WSOL). Run by Fairtrade Africa, the school is teaching confidence, money management, sustainable farming practices – and gender rights.


I have for some time had a strong interest in Fair Trade coffee – as a brand concept and as a back story. There can be quite a difference between the brand, and the reality behind, in front of, and positioned all around of, the brand.

Click here for previous posts about Fair Trade coffee >

A June 9, 2015 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “The fair trade dilemma: How do you make better coffee, tea, chocolate choices?”

The opening paragraphs read:

“The provenance of what we consume is a complex issue. Often our daily indulgences – tea, coffee, chocolate and sugar – come at a great cost: slavery, poverty, ecological destruction, human displacement and animal extinction.

“Still, we want to enjoy that morning coffee, guilt-free, so, we look to the labels for the green light – logos with birds, frogs or smiling farm workers.

“So how do you make a better choice? And why are so many people in the food service industry skeptical of Fairtrade certifications? With the Toronto Fair Trade Show June 13-14 (thefairtradeshow.com), here’s a look at some of our favourite – but problematic – products.”

[End of excerpt]


You might enjoy reading some of the previous posts I’ve written about this topic.

I brew a few cups of coffee at home each morning:

I became interested in Doi Chaang coffee after reading a research report about Fair Trade coffee


A Huffington Post article, downloaded July 19, 2015, is entitled: The Myth of the Ethical Shopper. We’re still trying to eliminate sweatshops and child labor by buying right. But that’s not how the world works in 2015.

Also of interest: The Rebel Sell: How the Counterculture Became Consumer Culture (2004).

A Jan. 29, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Coffee cups: 3 months later, are they being recycled at Tim Hortons and Starbucks?”

A Jan. 4, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Coffee from Rainforest Alliance farms in Brazil linked to exploited workers: Certification schemes criticised for failing to spot labour rights violations on farms in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer.”

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