Whether or not to allow plantations into the fair trade model is not the only debate raging within the specialty coffee industry. Another, and more wide-reaching debate, is whether certification schemes benefit producers, or if they are in fact barriers to trade. While millions of small-scale coffee producers have benefitted from certification systems like Fair Trade, Organic, Bird Friendly, and Rainforest Alliance over the last twenty years, they have not done so without critique and resistance. Drawing from conversations I have had recently with producers, cooperative administrators, exporters, roasters and distributors, this post addresses the dark, untold stories of certified production and trade.
A guest post by Courtney E. Miller
“A diamond is a girl’s best friend.” Or is it? The exceptionally hard, brilliant stone has been portrayed in movies and advertisements as the object of many a girl’s fantasy. Women in the US and increasingly around the world are told by the media to expect nothing less than a diamond ring as a token of engagement, and the message seems to work. In 2007, global diamond jewelry sales reached more than US $70 billion. But this symbol of eternal love has been tainted by the existence of bloody conflicts in African countries fueled by the global diamond trade. In 2002, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established to reduce such conflicts, and to ensure that globally traded diamonds come strictly from “conflict-free” areas. Recently, significant criticisms of the KPCS have brought its effectiveness into question.