Coffee and tea’s overproduction continues to keep prices depressed for the fourth year in a row now. Yet producers continue to strive to keep quality coffee and tea available. In this issue, we focus on how origin countries are doing just that. For instance, we examine small origins Zambia and East Timor, where substantial funding is being put into producing Arabica coffee in order to help boost their economies. Also featured are Nicaragua and El Salvador and their recent success with the Cup of Excellence awards and auction system. Cup of Excellence is a competition that selects the best coffee produced in that country for that particular year. These winning coffees are chosen by a choice group of national and international judges. The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence and sold to the highest bidder during an Internet auction.
Both coffee importers and roasters participate in the auction process, and winning farmers are ecstatic to be acknowledged for their high quality product. About 85% of the record prices at auction go back to the producers and the farmer finally receives recognition for being a quality producer.
Cup of Excellence, started by a group of dedicated Brazilian farmers and others, now includes Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The award introduces quality regions never before recognized.
We also have the pleasure of publishing the travel diary of Srirupa Banerjee of the Makibara Estate in Darjeeling, India, during a recent promotional tour that Fairtrade ran through France. (See page 61)
FLO is the worldwide Fairtrade Standard setting and Certification organization that permits more than 800,000 producers (tea and coffee among them) in more than 40 countries to benefit from labeled Fairtrade products.
FLO guarantees that products sold anywhere in the world with a Fairtrade label marketed by a National Initiative conforms to Fairtrade Standards and contributes financially to the development of tea and coffee producers. FLO has 22 registered producers in India and the Makibara Estate is one of them.
Total tea sales volume of FLO/Fairtrade’s tea has increased 16.7% from 2001 to 2002, totaling 1265.8 metric tons. Canada increased from 1.3 metric tons to 4.3MT, France increased from 12 to 31 MT; The U.K. increased from 651.7 MT to 806 MT; Italy increased from 38 to 41.6 MT and the U.S. increased from 25 MT to 54.6 MT.
For more information on these organizations assisting the tea and coffee industries, contact the following web sites: www.fairtrade.net and www.cupofexcellence.org
Editor & Co-Publisher