What can be done?
The International Coffee Organization (ICO) has made a series of proposals that address the problems which have arisen because of the coffee crisis. They are proposing:
- mandating a minimum price for coffee growers that covers the cost of production and allows farmers to make a profit;
- increasing the price of coffee by reducing existing stocks of coffee;
- destroying at least 5 million bags of existing low-grade coffee;
- obtaining a commitment from coffee companies to buy a higher percentage of fair-trade coffee;
- encouraging “value-added” coffee processing in producing countries to raise the value of the product in the market thereby increasing the profit margin. Value-added practices often mean the difference between a farm that is economically viable and one that cannot be sustained financially. This practice is crucial to the future of sustainable farming, because they allow farmers to advance economically without having to “pump up” the manufacture of raw material from the land.
- supporting services for coffee growers including access to credit, marketing information and educational programs concerning coffee growing techniques and debt management;
- making funds available for farmers who wish to switch over to other crops.
The ICO also proposes that the lowest quality coffee be declared off-limits to the world market. This coffee would be destroyed, resulting in the disappearance of approximately 350,000 tons of coffee from the world market. This would result in higher cost of commercial coffee, called the “C” market, thus effectively ending the coffee crisis. The ICO further proposes support for farmers to migrate over into other types of crops.
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