Sustainability, a chain of courage
Sustainability are social, economic, and environmental processes that are looking for a common ideal. It is the relationship of mankind with its environment to achieve an equilibrium, that will satisfy the needs of current generations, without sacrificing their future capacity to promote economic progress and the protection and respect of ecosystems. The structure of the activity chain in the coffee industry must be maintained so that its sustainable for all of the links in the chain.
It has been over a decade that the sustainability of the production chain in the coffee industry has been in growth and development, bringing awareness to both merchants and consumers. The public has witnessed the sustainability movement’s burgeoning success with the number and prestige of the certifications, with which it has been accredited. Market research has shown that consumers, both on the wholesale and retail levels, are willing to pay top dollar for coffees with a sustainability stamp.
Forty percent of our production proudly carry stamps of sustainability, certified by international agencies whose principal functions are to accredit labor and environmental conditions, whose costs are solved by the growers and which are being seriously questioned in global publications and forums. The certifications have not served as the access for the growers to be sustainable in the most important and forgotten aspect; which is economic sustainability. None of the other aspects of sustainability will be tenable unless there is profitable economic sustainability in a long term manner. In London, late September 2016, there was a forum by the OIC (?), one if its presentations expressed that in the last ten years, coffee agriculture has exceeded production costs in just four years.
The world’s coffee “cake” generates $200 billion dollars in revenue yearly, of which growers see only $15 billion. With the profits being so disproportionately distributed, it will be difficult to stimulate the level of growth needed to fulfill on the coffee market’s needs.
Our institution has undertaken a global awareness crusade, so that markets both domestic and abroad, understand that if the process of growing coffee is not profitable? The raw material, will begin to diminish and will threaten the growth and stability of the industry. The current commercial model where coffee growers are pressured by markets to produce at the lowest price and being paid as little as possible has resulted in poverty, environmental destruction, and social injustice.
There would need to be an analysis done to determine, in whose hands lies the responsibility of making the coffee industry sustainable. If we were to take a look at the prices that is paid for coffee, either by wholesalers or the coffee drinker on the street, one wouldn’t have to search too deeply to conclude that consumers have always paid high prices. The coffee market is not modulated so that there exists equilibrium between it’s different protagonists. The highest risks and lowest incomes falls on the shoulders of the growers, the weakest link of the chain. If there isn’t an international modulation of the commercial relationships between consumer and producer countries, before market prices dip yet again, or revaluation of currencies occur; coffee agriculture will gradually disappear in many countries.
Sustainability is far too important to be left in the hands of the market or corporate giants who have enormous power and plentiful money to manipulate institutions and put them to work for their personal interests and gains.