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The conventional way of cultivating coffee sees the plants grown as monocultures on plantations of up to 1000 hectares. More and more fertilisers and pesticides are used in an attempt to increase yields. Competitive pressure and the low world market price for green coffee are forcing small growers to turn to chemical agents too. But often these agents are used inappropriately. Measures are not usually put in place to protect the farmers and workers, with the result that families fall ill and the earth and water become contaminated. The wages paid to coffee workers are frequently insufficient to feed a family.


In Germany, fair trade coffee bears the TransFair mark of the “TransFair Verein zur Förderung des fairen Handels mit der ‘Dritten Welt’ e.V.”, the TransFair Association for the Promotion of Fair Trade with Third World Countries. The TransFair International mark has been granted to importers, further processing companies and retail businesses since 1993, in return for a licensing fee. Up to 40% of the basic products found in TransFair foods are organic

The mark also stands for:

  • Lasting commercial relationships
  • Prices which cover the costs of production and provide scope for additional development and community-based work
  • The promotion of further processing within the country of production
  • Advice on product development tailored to the region in question
  • Improved working conditions
  • Fair wages
  • The promotion of emancipation and democratisation within companies
  • The merger of several small-scale farming businesses into collectives

Coffee was the first product to be traded bearing this mark. The families involved in the small-scale farming collectives earn a higher wage than other small-scale farmers. Collective investments can be made in schools and other educational, social and healthcare institutions, as well as in organic projects.


Specifically, fair trade coffee stands for:

  • Cutting out the middleman
  • Buying direct from small-scale farmers
  • A guaranteed minimum price when world market prices are low; if the market rises above the minimum price, a fixed development supplement is paid, regardless of how much the market price has increased
  • Supplements for particularly high-quality coffee may not be set off against TransFair supplements.

 

The consumer pays around 2 cents more for a cup of fair trade coffee than for standard coffee. Many TransFair coffees are also classed as organic foods and bear a mark of organic certification.

 

You will find more information about coffee here:
Coffee – Any time is coffee time | Origins and history | Cultivation & harvesting | Arabica and robusta | Preparation | Storage