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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Child Labor on Coffee Plantations

Africa - A report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that 70% of agricultural work accounts for child labor worldwide. Of this work force, 60% is conducted on coffee plantations in Kenya.

“Most working children in the world are found on farms and plantations, not in factories, sweatshops or urban areas,” stated Jennie Dey DePryck, chief of FAO’s Rural Institutions and Participation Service. Parviz Koohafkan, director of FAO’s Rural Development Division, cautioned, that the issue is complex, since not all the agricultural work performed by children is harmful to their development and wellbeing.

“When it comes to subsistence and family agriculture, children’s participation in farm activities can help them learn valuable skills, build self-esteem and contribute to the generation of household income, which has a positive impact on their own livelihoods,” Koohafkan said.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), child laborers in Africa are expected to increase to more than 100 million by the year 2015 from the current 80 million. Ilo also said that Africa has the highest incidence of child labor with about 41% of children aged 5-14 working. Asia is second with 21% followed by Latin America at 17%.

Drinking Tea May Lower Bad Cholesterol

United States - Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said they found consumers that drank black tea may lower bad cholesterol levels that could one day be used to help reduce the chance of heart disease for those at risk. The study indicated that those that drank black tea for three weeks experienced a decrease of between 7-11% in their low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or so-called bad cholesterol. Exactly what caused the LDL cholesterol level to drop was unknown, but tests are being conducted to determine if the beverage slows the body’s ability to absorb LDL cholesterol, the scientists said.

There was no effect on the level of high-density lipoprotein, or the good type of cholesterol, according to the study conducted on a small group of individuals. “This may indicate that drinking tea regularly could have a beneficial effect, if consumed regularly as part of a mixed diet for most people,” said Joseph Judd, a chemist with the USDA, who led the study. “We aren’t talking about drinking tea over a lifetime, which we really can’t study, but we have a short study and indications are very positive,” Judd said.

Growers for Revival of Coffee Trade

Kochi - Over a year after coffee futures trade hit a roadblock, following delivery issues, coffee growers and traders have been demanding revival of the trade, including night trade, so as to keep abreast with the international market.

A number of growers and traders FE contacted felt that while coffee was among the largest commodities being traded in the futures market internationally, here, though two national exchanges had launched the trade, things failed. While it was an issue of delivery that prompted the failure, there were other issues including denial of night trade.

Though India had only 4% share in the global coffee market, it had to be noted that of the over 3 lakh ton of annual coffee production, around 80% was being exported. Growers said that the Forward Markets Commission should not treat coffee as a purely agriculture commodity -- like wheat or pulses -- and not allow night trade.

The London International Finance and Futures Exchange, which trades in Robusta closes around 7:30 pm (IST), while the New York Board of Trade closes around 11:30 pm. Coffee when traded at NMCE and NCDEX previously closed at 5 pm, giving the trader little opportunity to close prices at the global one.

Traders felt authorities had to realize that the coffee price was determined globally through trade and a transparent future trade system would make the international market look at Indian prices and gradually give India a say in the market. A night trade would also allow an opportunity to hedge with international price parity. Also, the international exchanges would begin to look at Indian prices at the start of their trade.

The Coffee Board’s Long-Term Goals

Philippines-The Philippine Coffee Board's (PCB) long-time goal of accurate coffee hectarage and annual coffee production forecasting may soon be achieved as Nescafé renews its pledge of financial and technical assistance.

Joel Lumagbas, head of agricultural services of Nestlé Philippines Inc., the makers of Nescafé, says his firm is ready to support PCB's proposed validation task force that aims to survey and measure all the coffee trees and plantation in the country. Consequently, this will allow a more accurate annual forecasting once the coffee hectarage has been determined.

"Coffee hectarage and forecasting are very important to the industry because these will show us how much coffee we have. This, in turn, can help us gauge the amount of hectarage for coffee farms still needed to meet our local demands," says Lumagbas. "It will also help us establish an accurate buying and selling price for our coffee."

Nikki Matti, co-chairman of PCB, adds that the industry has always relied on trade statistics and trade-based information for actual coffee production. He points out, however, that, "a lot of coffee production cannot be accounted for because these are grown, processed and consumed in the local areas."

PCB is a private sector-led group sworn into office by President Arroyo on May 29, 2002 as the National Task Force on Coffee Rehabilitation. Its goal is to develop and promote the Philippine coffee industry through technical assistance and credit programs for coffee farms; through certification of coffee farms, millers and roasters; and through marketing and promotions of coffee for domestic and export markets.

Nescafé is one of the founding members of PCB and a major partner in many of its activities: seminars, coffee-farming courses, trade shows and exhibits. This October, the Coffee Board will have its fourth annual month-long celebration of Philippine-grown coffee and coffee products.

Dubai’s Fledgling Tea Trading Center Nearly Doubled

Dubai - Dubai’s tea trading center has practically doubled in volume during the past six months compared with the same period last year. This growth reflects a Middle East demand, its director stated. The Middle East was the world’s third largest consumer of tea, accounting for 27% of global imports, the center said. “We have processed about 2.1 million kg of tea from nine different countries from March to September 30 of this year...and we are planning to reach 5-6 million kg by the end of 2006,” Sanjay Sethi of the Dubai Tea Trading Centre (DTTC) said. “Since we started in March of 2005 we have stocked and traded about 5.9 million kg of tea, despite the impact of Kenya’s drought,” he told Reuters.

Kenya’s tea output dropped sharply in the first half of this year due to a severe drought in the first quarter. Sethi said prices for tea from Kenya jumped between 15 and 25% earlier this year, temporarily reducing flows through Dubai. The volume of tea handled by the center and shipped through Dubai has been growing rapidly, with the emirate’s target market in the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States making up 44% of global tea imports in 2005. DTTC, which is seeking to position itself as a hub for blending and storing multi-origin teas after opening last year as 96 million kg of tea traded through Dubai in 2005 was up nearly 30% from the previous year.

Tea & Coffee - November/December, 2006
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