Extreme Poverty and Coffee

Extreme Poverty has a definition: living on less than 1.25 dollars US a day.

In 2000, 189 world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit made a promise and some goals. 
Goal #1 is to END HUNGER & EXTREME POVERTY through these objectives:

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
  3. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
How does this connect with the coffee industry?

The 25 million small coffee farmers world-wide often live in poverty or extreme poverty.  Many of their neighbors do too. Coffee accounts for billions of dollars of export income for some of the world's poorest countries.

Paying coffee farmers a more than fair wage for their coffee is a step toward ending poverty for them.  Plus, they buy from their neighbors' business or farm and thereby help end poverty for the entire community.

Here's an example for you.  The Guatemalan coffee we use puts at least* $1.72 per pound of green coffee in the farmers' hands (his name is Edwin if you're wondering).  Our roaster buys 10,000 lbs of coffee from Edwin.  So, the farmer gets at least* $17,200 from the sale of his coffee.  Which gives him and his family over $47 per day to live on.

Compare that with many farmers who end up selling their coffee to "coyotes" who pay them way less than the C market rate (this rate fluctuates daily and widely over time).  Farmers who sell to "coyotes" can get as little as 50 cents per pound.  50 cents per pound for a 3000-pound crop would mean a family lives on $4.11 per day.  For a family of four that's way less than the $1.25 extreme poverty definition.

Do you Give a Damn?  Want to talk to some filmmakers who Give a Damn?  Check out overflowfilm.eventbrite.com for more information about an upcoming documentary film screening.

*It's a little more complicated because Edwin gets $4 per pound since he secured the coffee from farm to "free for export" (FOB).  After covering the costs of transportation and exportation fees, he gets at least $1.72.

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