Thursday, 3 April 2008

Tom and Pascal

It's late, but I need to post about an event earlier tonight at the Houses of Parliament. For me, a visit to the Palace of Westminster might usually be a meeting of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, but this time it was to see the launch of a new high quality coffee from Rwanda. And it was an evening of inspiration.

Whilst the Fairtrade Foundation is undoubtedly responsible for the vast increase in awareness of unethical and sometime downright greedy exploitation of producers in the 2nd and 3rd world, it is also true that (a) they spend the majority of their income on promoting their brand, and (b) one must be involved in a co-operative to receive recognition, rather than an individual farmer.

Union Hand-Roasted seek the best of both worlds. Their 'relationship' approach to coffee, is demonstrated in their commitment to meeting all the farmers from whom they buy beans; their purchasing of beans at a price way about the fairtrade minimum; and their insistence that all tasting is blind, and purchasing done on quality only.

It's this last point that makes the real difference. By buying on quality alone, coupled with the commitment to work with farmers and co-operatives to get coffee to the kind of quality required, Union work from both ends of the chain, and thus help develop communities like Maraba into depending on their own ability to produce something that is in high demand around the world, and

As Tom and Pascal, two farmers from Maraba, who spoke last night, said, "Please buy more of our coffee!" I for one will be doing so.

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