Fair Trade Facts: From crop to cup

Small farmers

A farmer sorts through coffee beans

A farmer sorts through green coffee
beans he has just harvested.

Small farmers plant, tend and harvest their coffee crop. Without the benefit of the fair trade system, most small farmers sell their crop directly to middlemen exporters, commonly referred to as coyotes.

Coyotes typically take advantage of small farmers by paying farmers below market price and keeping a high percentage for themselves. This leaves the farmers without enough money to sustain themselves after the harvest. The farmers have no access to credit, so are forced to sell the rights to their future crops to the coyotes at extremely low prices in exchange for cash up front. Thus, it becomes difficult for small farmers to break the cycle of selling their crops to these middlemen.

© 2006 by Mesa Johnson
E-mail me at mmjohnson2@stthomas.edu