Fair Trade Brewing at Black Coffee Film Screening
Wednesday, September 12, 20072 Comments
This is the bitter reality portrayed in Black Gold, http://www.blackgoldmovie.com/ a documentary featured on campus Tuesday evening by Oxfam, Planet Bean, OPIRG and the Central Student Association Human Rights Office. The film follows the plight of Tadesse Meskele, manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union in Ethiopia, as he attempts to find independent buyers who are willing to work directly with his cooperative.
The film juxtaposes heart-rending scenes of life in the poverty-stricken coffee regions of Ethiopia against the high powered trading floors of New York City, excitable Starbucks managers, and the 2003 World Trade Organization negotiations in Cancun.
Ã¬Our main aim is to bring more money into the coffee farmersÃ pocketsÃ–and to improve the coffee farmersÃ lives,Ã® Meskele said in the film.
He explained that coffee farmers in Ethiopia would need to receive ten times what they do now simply to satisfy their basic needs such as clean water, nutritious food, and an education for their children.
After the film, Meskele was available to take questions from his audience in the Bullring, where he elaborated on the Oromia co-operative and the basics of fair trade coffee.
The co-operativeÃs coffee is certified by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO), which inspects the its financial books, farms, and working conditions on a regular basis. In Canada, FLO certified products are labeled with the TransFair Canada logo. According to Meskele, the annual fee collected by FLO is easily offset by the higher price co-operative farmers receive for their beans when they are sold on the fair trade market.
Last year, students at the University of Guelph passed a CSA referendum question promoting the sale of fair trade coffee on campus.
Ã¬The referendum question about fair trade gave the Code of Ethical Conduct committee the clout to recommend to the administration the switchover to fair trade coffee on all Ã«non-branded hospitality services,ÃÃ® explained Cailey Campbell, the CSAÃs external commissioner.
Ã¬BrandedÃ® coffee vendors, such as Tim Hortons, remain exempt from the recommendation. The company does not purchase any Fair Trade coffee, but say they assist some coffee farmers through their new Ã¬coffee sustainabilityÃ® program
Meskele, however, is unequivocal on the importance of certified fair trade to self-directed social and economic development in coffee farming regions.
Ã¬If trade is fair," Meskele told students, "there is no need to look for aid.Ã®