The title of a recent post by Harriet Lamb, chief executive of Fairtrade International, set the tone for a shift in direction. She opens with a quote from Oscar Wilde in “Dangerous Ideas Wanted” and quickly pivots to recapping the history of coffee price volatility.
Lamb wrote, “When the International Coffee Agreement collapsed in 1989, prices went into wild fluctuations with terrible falls ‘to hell and back’ leaving farmers with prices so low, it wasn’t even worth picking the coffee berries.”
Then, using a difficult climb up a mountain as a metaphor, Lamb cites some of Fairtrade International’s success, including that more than 1.4 million farmers now participate in fair trade. As she notes, such milestones merely represent having summited a foothill given that about half of the world’s coffee production is purchased by a small number of companies.
Fairtrade International is shifting as the organization looks ahead to the next 25 years. Perhaps the most significant “innovation” is that producers now represent half of the ownership of the organization. Already, new projects to help farmers adapt to climate change are underway as are shifts in standards for farm workers.
Learn more: www.fairtrade.net