DR Wakefield: Fairtrade Coffee with Arinagata Cooperative
DR Wakefield were the first company in the UK to import green fairtrade coffee, with the dedicated ambition to change its perception from a lesser quality coffee, to one that people could enthusiastically invest in; both for its excellence and for its contribution to the economy and livelihood of a coffee producing area.
Anna Pierides from Fairtrade, explained and clarified that a product with a Fairtrade certification is always 100% fairtrade (something often misunderstood by many consumers). In order for this certification to be granted, a coffee farm must contribute economically, environmentally and socially to its people and surroundings.
Fairtrade is effectively 50% owned by producers, as they decide where money should be spent according to the specific issues of that area. For example, some may be more focused on climate change issues, whereas others may be more invested in vocational training for the children of coffee producers. The Fairtrade organisation also contribute to reforestation, water conservation, the education of the next generation of coffee farmers, and the empowerment of women to name a few.
Fairtrade coffee operates by setting a minimum trading price, which is based on sustainability, and protects producers from the volatility of the coffee price market. Fairtrade can proudly claim that they work with 445 coffee producer organisations, representing 812,500 coffee farmers across 30 countries, and this number continues to improve year on year.
Mahyana Sari of the Fairtrade cooperative Arinagata, Sumatra spoke of the benefits that Fairtrade has brought to their farm, which started in 2006 with only 500 members. Once locals became aware of the evident benefits of Faitrade, their employees grew considerably, and they now proudly employ over two and a half thousand, a sixth of whom are female. Grown between around 1,200m and 1,500m, the cooperative sell only 35% of their harvested crops, given lack of awareness in markets outside of USA.
Thanks to Fairtrade Premium, (“an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions), Arinagata have been able to set up a field school, provide electricity to the houses of each farmer, fund the farmer’s children through university or vocational studies, improve road construction, and build a community library.