Despite all the friendly PR and promotion of fair trade there is little evidence efforts by the world’s top coffee roasters and traders to prevent human rights and environmental abuses are having any impact, with most farmers operating at a loss and unable to produce sustainably, a major coffee report said.
The coffee sector is valued at $200-250 billion a year at the retail level, according to the report, but producing countries receive less than 10% of that value when exporting beans, and farmers even less than that.
Coffee is grown on roughly 12.5 million farms globally, about 95% of which are labour intensive smallholdings that usually employ an entire farming family as well as seasonal workers. Coffee, in other words, provides a livelihood for tens of millions of people worldwide.
“Smallholder farmers are under constant pressure to cut costs, especially those related to labour and the environment,” said the report.
Peru estimates 25% of deforestation in the country is linked to coffee production.