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Fair trade was originally conceived as a way to address disparities between conditions of small-scale farmers in developing countries from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, collectively referred to as the Global South…The goal was to help farmers in the Global South stay on their land, build stronger rural communities, and not be forced to work on the plantations of big food corporations. Fair trade pioneers agreed that one of the best ways to do this was to provide access for small-scale farmers in the Global South to markets in the Global North and to create awareness among consumers that buying fair trade really improves the livelihoods of marginalized farmers abroad.

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Fair Trade Vs. Direct Trade

Fair Trade Vs. Direct Trade


Featuring: BEN MYERS, Co-Owner of 1000 Faces Coffee

In the 1980's, a group of coffee farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico, organized the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus Region to get better prices for their coffee crops. Their struggles led them to enlist the support of Solidaridad, a Dutch NGO. The result was the first Fair Trade designated certification for a food product.

Fair Trade is an impersonal approach to food producer relationships — it creates standards and rules to improve the lives of growers and producers by paying them an above commodity market “fair trade” price. Direct trade, on the other hand, is a more personal approach. In terms of coffee production, it creates a transparency between the two major producers in the coffee chain — roaster and farmer — and provides price incentives for farmers able to produce higher quality coffee.

Ben Myers, a roaster at 1000 Faces Coffee in Athens, Georgia, believes both fair trade and direct trade have purpose and place in the gigantic world of global coffee trade. The two terms make special reference to systems which organize how business is conducted in transferring coffee from farmer to roaster. The goal of 1000 Faces is to be the storyteller at the campfire, both simplifying and illuminating the story of coffee.

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