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Coffee From Cradle to Grave


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Title: Coffee From Cradle to Grave

Coffee From Cradle to Grave
  • By Monica Martinez and Crystal Mount
  • Race, Poverty and the Environment
  • Professor Raquel R. Pinderhughes
  • Urban Studies Program
  • SFSU Spring 2003
  • Public has the permission to use the material
    herein, but only If authors, course, university
    and professor are cited.

Our presentation focuses on Coffee. It is
designed to make you aware of the consequences of
your purchase of a cup of coffee. It takes you
through the cradle to grave lifecycle of coffee,
paying particular attention to the social,
environmental, and public health impacts of the
processes associated with coffee.
  • We start with a brief history of Coffee, and we
    look why it is important to know where your
    coffee comes from.
  • We then look at the extraction and production
    processes, which includes where coffee is grown,
    the two types of coffee, and the environmental
    impacts of this processes.
  • Next, we explain the negative impacts on workers,
    which include the health effects of pesticides,
    the workers poor living conditions, the
    additional strains on women, children, and
    seasonal laborers, and the difficulties of
  • Later, we examine the health impacts on the
    communities surrounding the coffee plantations
    and we touch on the consumers health impacts.
  • Distributions is our next section, where we cover
    the routes of coffee from the small producer or
    plantation worker to the consumer.
  • Finally, we discuss the types of waste that
    comes from coffee, and what happens to it.

Brief History of Coffee
  • Origin
  • Coffees origin can be traced to the 12th
    century in Ethiopia, where it is believed to have
    been first harvested (Waridel 32). Traders
    brought coffee to the Middle East, from where it
    began to spread outward in the 15th century,
    penetrating every corner of Europe over the next
    two hundred years(32). Moreover, coffee became a
    very important means of European trade as it
    spread to the Dutchs, Frenchs, and Britishs
    colonies during the 18th and 19th century(32).
    At this time, people from Africa and natives of
    the colonies were enslaved to work in the coffee
    plantations (32). During the period of
    decolonization, coffee was put forward as a
    miracle crop that would allow developing
    countries to achieve economic growth.(32)

Brief History Continued
  • Institutionalization of Coffee
  • Beginning the 1970s, institutions began promoting
    technified coffee, which replaced the traditional
    shade grown coffee.
  • USAID was the principal player in Central America
    and in 1978, promoted a program called PROMECAFE,
    a Spanish acronym for Coffee Improvement
    Project (Rice 26) At its initiation PROMECAFE
    promoted the intensification of coffee along the
    lines established by the USAID and its
    consultants. In the 1980s, technification was
    defined and rationalized
  • i8o9oooo
  • Technification refers to the combination of
  • including scientific pruning, shading,
    application of fertilizers, insecticides and
    fungicides, planting high-yielding rust resistant
    varieties as soon as they become available, and
    increasing the number of yields per manzana 1
    manzana 0.69 hectare, so that average yields
    will increase from 7-10 quintales 1 quintal
    100 pounds dry bean to 30-35 per manzana.

Brief Story Continued
  • Existing coffee plantings are typically old,
    lowdensity plantings which suffer from disease
    and insect problems, lack proper nutrition, are
    unpruned and heavily shaded. These conditions and
    practices greatly restrict yields and reduce
    productivity. In order to effectively utilized
    proven production practices which consistently
    yield 30 or more cwt. per manzana, it is
    necessary to completely remove the present
    plantings and introduce new varieties and a
    technical package of inputs and procedures which
    farmersthrough extension, education, and
    trainingcan readily employ. (Rice 8-9)
  • These are the reasons USAID used to convince
    developing countries to switch from shade grown
    coffee to technified coffee.

Brief Story Continued
  • Between 1978 and 1997, USAID established and
    implemented at least eight projects that either
    were aimed specifically at or converged logically
    with the coffee-technification process in Central
    America and the Caribbean. Over the course of
    some nineteen years, USAID funneled nearly 81
    million into these projects, aiming to affect
    more than 300,000 hectares of coffee land and
    half a million producers in the region (Rice 9).
  • In Mexico, INMECAFE was another institution that
    promoted changes in coffee production. Over the
    past three decades Mexico has seen a 73 percent
    expansion in the area devoted to coffee, from
    356,000 hectares in 1970 to the current 615,000
    hectares. (Rice 9)

  • Why is it important to know where your coffee
    comes from?
  • People think that the 2 they pay for their
    cappuccino at Starbucks is the real price of
    coffee, but in reality there are other costs in
    the coffee that impose negative social and
    environmental impacts, which are not included in
    the price.
  • Coffee is the second largest US import after
    oil, and the US consumes one-fifth of all the
    worlds coffee, making it the largest consumer in
    the world (FAQ par.1)
  • North Americans consume more than 4 kg (9 lb.)
    of the black drink per capita per year, which
    averages out to about two cups per day for every
    man, woman, and child (Waridel 31).
  • When consumers continue to purchase coffee
    without regard to the external effects, the
    current conditions that coffee farmers are going
    through will continue to persist. The disastrous
    environmental and social effects will continue to
    wreck and ravage the earth and the people.

Extraction and Production
  • Where is coffee grown?
  • Coffee is cultivated mainly in Latin America,
    Asia, and Africa. Some of the main
    producer-countries are Brazil, Columbia,
    Indonesia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India,
    Uganda, and others (Waridel 51).
  • We think is important not to focus on one
    particular country to tell the story about coffee
    because all of these countries have one thing in
    common. That is the intensification and
    institutionalization of coffee as a monocrop, and
    the pressures put on these countries to be part
    of the global economic market that promotes free
    trade agreements such as The North American Free
    Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Gresser, Charis and Sophia Tickell. Mugged
Poverty in Your Cup. Oxfam International 20027
Where is Coffee Grown?
Extraction and Production
  • Under the excuse to integrate lesser developed
    countries into the global market economy, The
    World Bank and the IMF have encourage poor
    countries to liberalize trade and pursue
    export-led growth. (Gresser 3) The NAFTA and
    the impending CAFTA (US/Central America Free
    Trade Agreement) are the only options given to
    these countries to strengthen their economies.

Extraction and Production
  • Unfortunately, the globalization of trade and the
    pressure to get greater yields to be part of the
    global market have forced these coffee-countries
    to emphasized their agricultural economies on
    cash crops such as coffee.
  • Therefore, they had to abandon their traditional
    cultivation methods to use the technological
    methods necessary for higher yields. As a result
    their economies became dependant on the coffee

Extraction and Production
  • This means that the livelihoods of the
    communities in these countries also depend on the
    cultivation of coffee. For example
  • In Mexico, coffee is still of great importance,
    especially to the 280,000 indigenous farmers
    living mostly in the poorer states of Oaxaca,
    Chiapas, Veracruz and Puebla. (Gresser 8)
  • In Brazil, although coffee provides less than
    five percent of total foreign exchange earnings,
    it provides a livelihood for between 230,000 and
    300,000 farmers and employs a further three
    million people directly in the coffee industry.
  • The following graph illustrates the percentage of
    coffee exports compared to total exports in some
    of the producing countries.

Dependency on Coffee
Gresser, Charis and Sophia Tickell. Mugged
Poverty in Your Cup. Oxfam International 20028
Extraction and Production
  • The non-traditional methods based on the
    intensification or technification of the coffee
    crops gave rise to the differentiation between
    one type of coffee to the next. As a result, we
    now hear the names Technified-sun-grown coffee
    or Traditional-shade grown coffee as the most
    important ways to refer to type of coffee you
  • Although you may think that production methods do
    not chance the flavor of your cup of coffee, we
    will show you how Technified coffee might leave
    a different taste in your mouth after you learn
    of the hidden cost of the method used to make
    this type of coffee.

Extraction and Production
  • It is only fair to tell you that there are two
    other names by which people refer to the type of
    coffee you drink. These have to do with the type
    of plant specie cultivated with either technified
    methods or traditional methods. These are Arabica
    Coffee and Robusta Coffee. They are two of the
    more than twenty species of the coffee plant and
    they account for the vast bulk of the coffee
    drunk worldwide. (Dicum 40).
  • Arabica and Robusta species differ in taste,
    caffeine content, disease resistance, and optimum
    cultivation conditions. Natural variations in
    soil, sun, moisture slope, disease, and pest
    conditions dictate which coffee is most
    effectively cultivated in each region of the
    world. (40)
  • However, it is the hidden costs of the technified
    coffee that carries the greatest importance and
    the one you will want to know more about.

Extraction and Production
  • If you buy ungrounded coffee at the supermarket,
    you probably know that you are buying seeds.
    These were once enclosed in the coffee fruit, a
    drupe (a fleshy fruit surrounding a hard seed,
    like a cherry). Each cherry usually contains
    two seeds, or coffee beans, although
    occasionally only one seed develops. (Dicum 39)
  • Coffee is cultivated by either small producers in
    small farms with less that five hectares of
    coffee trees, or by large landowners. (Waridel
  • Cultivation begins with carefully choosing beans
    from highly productive plants. The beans are
    planted and raised in nurseries for their first
    year, after which they are transplanted outdoors
    to the plantation.
  • Technification kicks in at the planting stage.

Extraction and Production
  • Technified-Sun-Grown Coffee
  • It is also called shadeless or near-shadeless
    technified coffee because large amounts of an
    overstory of valuable non-coffee trees that
    provides shade in traditional coffee farms are
    clear-cut to plant the seedlings.
  • It is extracted by means of intense monocropping,
    chemicals (fertilizers, herbicides,
    insecticides), and plantation workers.
  • It consists of rows that are spaced farther apart
    than traditional-shade-coffee with higher density
    of coffee plants. Coffee plant density increases
    up to ten fold." (Rice, sec. 2)
  • Once the seedlings are planted, it needs to be
    carefully maintained to protect against diseases
    and pests. (Dicum 45)

Extraction and Production
  • Once the coffee plant is mature, which takes one
    to three years after planting, it produces
    2,000 coffee cherries per year or about 4,000
    coffee beans- the equivalent of one pound of
    roasted coffee. (Dicum 40)
  • Mechanization is used during the picking stage.
    Most picking is accomplished with the help of
    mechanical harvesters, monstrous machines that
    comb through the coffee plants, denudating them
    of all their loose cherries, but leaving the
    plants otherwise intact.
  • The result of such a rough massive scale
    mechanization is and inferior productwhich
    allows profit through volume. (Dicum 51)

Extraction and Production
  • Farm workers on such farms must undertake regular
    application of fertilizers, insecticides,
    fungicides, nematocides, and herbicides
    (sometimes with known carcinogenic chemicals)
    perform standardized pruning help work the
    machines and perform the post harvest
    proccessing. (Dicum 47)
  • Whether by rows or by blocks, coffee shrubs are
    pruned via a stumping back method, in which the
    truck of each plant is cut at about 35-40
    centimeters above ground level. The remaining
    stumps then sprout new shoots, which are examined
    and thinned the following year to encourage new
    growth. (Rice and Roberts sec. 2)
  • The tools that are used to prune the whole
    blocks or rows of technified coffee are small
    handsaws or hand held gasoline-powered weed
    cutters fitted with a heavy-duty rotatory saw
    blade (sec. 2)

Extraction and Production
  • The standardized treatment emerges in stark
    relief as one watches the workers walk down the
    rows of coffee, toppling all bushes just below
    knee height above the ground. (Rice sec. 2)
  • This scientific pruning leads to shorter coffee
    plants, only 5-8 meters in height compared to
    traditional shade coffee. (sec. 2).
  • As a result ,the careful attention that trees
    need does not occur in technified coffee farms.
    Unlike traditional shade coffee, which receives
    individual attention, technified coffee receives
    pruning at the level of whole block or whole
    rows of coffee.

Extraction and Production
  • The next step in this stage is also mechanized.
    The pulp of the coffee cherries have to be
    removed, and fine skin which covers each bean
    must be removed with expensive machinery.
    (Waridel 50)
  • The pulp is thrown out to the river as waste.
Extraction and Production
  • In the final process before exportation, the
    fine skin which covers the bean must be removed
    with expensive machinery. The beans are then
    graded according to their shape, colour, and
    density. Sophisticated machinery is also used
    in this process. (Waridel 50)
Environmental Impacts
  • Technified coffee production causes a large
    number of species extinction.
  • Technified coffee farms have fewer bird species
    than traditional shade coffee--ninety percent
    fewer species. (Rice and Roberts ch.4)
  • Sun-grown coffee is a threat for birds because as
    more shade-grown coffee is converted to sun-grown
    coffee, more birds will loose their habitat.
  • Other essential diverse species that sun-grown
    coffee lacks are beetles, ants, wasps, and
    spiders. Moreover, bats, which are important seed
    dispersers and pollinators of many tree species,
    can not be found in technified coffee farms (ch.
    4) B

Environmental Impacts
  • When we lose the species by taking away their
    habitat, we are not only exterminating the
    biodiversity of the planet, but we are also
    weakening Earths natural resource base which
    supports all species including humans.
  • Technified coffee has worse soil quality than
    traditional coffee.
  • The reduction of tree cover, natural predators,
    and organic materials leads to higher rates of
    nutrient-leaching, and higher erosion. When you
    cut down a forest shade coffee, rain flows over
    the top of the soil, causing erosion and
    saltation that winds up in the river. (Wexler,
    par 16)

Environmental Impacts
  • The clear cutting of the overstory of trees to
    plant technified coffee adds to the global
    warming problem that we face all over the world.
  • Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and
    balance the heat exchange between the atmosphere
    and the planet.
  • Researchers say that the value of such
    sequestration services provided by shade grown
    coffee is between 8 and 40 per acre. (Wexler,
    par. 15)

Environmental Impacts
  • The large amounts of chemicals used in technified
    coffee contaminate our environment and they do
    not obey national or international boundaries.
    Damages include
  • Contamination of waterways and water tables
  • Damage to soil microorganisms.
  • Eutrophication (overgrowth of algae in river,
    which depletes the oxygen in the water.)
  • Creates air pollution.
  • Creates pesticide-resistant weeds and insects.
  • Contributes to the destruction of the ozone
    layer. (Waridel 49)

Health of the Community and Pesticides
  • A report on pesticides in Kenya, Pesticide use
    and Management in Kenya by the World Wide Fund
    for Nature
  • found that significant amounts of pesticides
    are used on coffee estates, and sprayers are
    regularly exposed (Partow par.2).
  • The report showed that men predominantly do the
    spraying. However, coffee harvesting activities
    are almost exclusively the domain of female
    laborers and their children, and the picking
    period overlaps with pesticide application
    periods Therefore, they are frequently exposed
    when they are required to in recently sprayed
    areas (Partow par.3).
  • Workers sprayed from six to eleven hours a day
    (Partow par.3)
  • There are no lunch breaks or other rest
    pausesand the monthly wage was roughly
    US11-14, placing pesticide farmworkers in the
    lowest income group in Kenya Partow par.3)

  • There was no soap, drinking water or field
    sanitation facilities available for the workers
    during the spraying operations (Partow, par.4).
  • The only water available was in drums that were
    intended for mixing pesticide concentrate and
    therefore most of the workers just waited until
    they got home to wash (Partow, par.4).
  • Workers mixed chemical concentrates using bare
    hands and stirred with a tree branch or stick
    (Partow, par.5).
  • Pesticide solutions were poured without use of
    funnels, making spillage and splashes
    unavoidable (Partow, par.5).
  • Applicators sprayed both with and against the
    wind as spray tractors were driven up and down
    the rows in succession to save time and fuel
    (Partow, par.5).
  • Protective gear was provided for only some of the
  • 59 of workers observed had overalls or aprons.
  • 36 had boots.
  • 53 were bare foot.
  • 11 wore open toe slippers.

  • Of those who had overalls, laundering was either
    weekly (in 68 of cases) or at two to three week
    intervals, forcing workers to use
    pesticide-soaked clothing for long periods.
    Protective clothing often was deteriorated, and
    rarely replaced (Partow, par.6).
  • None of the workers had received formal training
    in mixing, loading or application of pesticides
    (Partow, par.7).
  • 58 did not know the name of the chemical they
    were applying nor were they familiar with first
    aid procedures (Partow, par.7).
  • The chemicals they were exposed to are extremely
    harmful. They were fungicides (such as captafol
    and chlorothalonil), insecticides (azinphos
    methyl, diazinon and omethoate) and herbicides
    (glyphosate and paraquat) (Partow, par.7).

  • For Costa Rica, if all the chemicals were used in
    the semi-technified and technified areas and no
    chemicals were used on the traditional coffee,
    then approximately 83,000 metric tons of
    formula correct amount of dosage fertilizer
    and 17,000 metric tons of urea are applied to
    coffee lands each year (Rice sec.2).
  • Nematocides, one of the most toxic of
    agrochemcials, exceed 1,700 metric tons per year,
    and some 120,000 liters of the herbicide paraquat
    settle onto coffee lands of Costa Rica each
    year (Rice sec.2).

  • Methods of applying toxins
  • Open cab tractors.
  • hose pipes attached with a spray lance.
  • knapsack spraying.
  • Equipment was generally in poor condition, with
    leaks occurring regularly (Partow, par.7).
  • Workers Health Affects From The Toxins
  • Many described their dizziness as feeling drunk
    or a spinning sensation (Partow, par.8).
  • Eye irritations included complaints of burning
    inside and seeing darkness (Partow, par.8).
  • 84 had skin irritation.
  • 71 had breathing difficulties.
  • 58 had stomach problems.
  • 20 had nausea.

  • Womens main health problems
  • skin irritations
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting (Partow, par, 10).
  • Many pickers were adamant that pesticides were
    the cause of such ailments, noting that these
    symptoms did not arise when they were processing
    coffee or weeding manually (Partow, par.8).
  • The majority of the farmers knew the pesticides
    caused their health problems but their fear of no
    job was more important than the illnesses. One
    laborer said, If the pesticides dont kill us,
    then hunger will (Partow, par.10).

  • To give an idea of what these pesticides can do
    to a human, we are going to describe paraquat,
    which is used in technified coffee.
  • Paraquat is an extremely poisonous but effective
  • Paraquats acute toxicity is extreme 3-5 g
    (approximately 3-5 ml, or less than a teaspoon)
    is the approximate lethal dose (LD50) of paraquat
    for an adult male (OBrien, par,2).
  • When paraquat is absorbed through the skin,
    inhaled, or ingested, Paraquat is toxic to
    epithelial tissues such as
  • skin
  • nails
  • cornea
  • liver
  • kidneys
  • the linings of the gastrointestinal and
    respiratory tracts (OBrien, par.4).

  • At very low levels of contact, paraquat causes
  • second degree burns
  • a rash all over the body
  • discolored, itching hands
  • premalignant skin lesions where paraquat exposed
    skin is also sun exposed (OBrien, par.5)

  • Endosulfan is also used in technified coffee.
  • Endosulfan has been linked to high rates of
    cancer, cerebral palsy and other serious
    disorders (Thanal Conservation Action).
  • It is classified as an organochlorine, which is
    the same family as DDT and dieldrin (Thanal
    Conservation Action).
  • It stays persistent in the environment, with a
    half-life of nine months to six years (Thanal
    Conservation Action).
  • There is strong evidence that endosulfan is an
    endocrine disrupting chemical (Thanal
    Conservation Action).

  • Endosulfan bioaccumulates in humans and other
    animals, collecting particularly in the
  • liver
  • kidneys
  • fatty tissues (Thanal Conservation Action).
  • More than 100 human poisoning and one death
    were attributed to endosulfan use in coffee
    during 1993 more than 100 poisoning and three
    deaths were reported in 1994 (Rice and Roberts

Workers Living Conditions
Workers Poor Living Conditions
  • The price farmers receive for their coffee is
    devastating to their livelihood.
  • When taking inflation into account, it is just
    now 25 per cent of its level in 1960, meaning
    that the money that farmers make from coffee can
    only buy one-quarter of what it could 40 years
    ago (Gresser and Tickell 9).
  • Production costs are not even covered.
  • In Viet Namin Dak Lak provinceat the beginning
    of 2002, the price farmers were receiving covered
    as little as 60 per cent of their production
    costs (Gresser and Tickell 9).
  • The following graph illustrates that individual
    farmers did not capture the full producers
    profit as indicated here, since much was
    absorbed by intermediaries and inefficient
    marketing chains (Gresser and Tickell 17).

  • Mohammed Ali Indris is an Ethiopian coffee
    farmers from the Kafa province. He is 36 years
    old and his household consists of 12 people,
    including the children of his deceased brother.
  • He estimated that about five years ago, he could
    have made 320 for the year with the combined
    sale of coffee and corn. This year he will only
    make 60 for his coffee and his family has
    already eaten the corn (Gresser and Tickell 10).
  • Five to seven years ago, I was producing seven
    sacks of red cherry unprocessed coffee and this
    was enough to buy clothes, medicines, services
    and to solve so many problems. But now even if I
    sell four times as much, it is impossible to
    cover all my expenses. I had to sell my oxen to
    repay the loan I previously took out to buy
    fertilizers and improved seed for my corn, or
    face prison

  • Medical treatment expenses are very high as
    this is a malaria-affected area. At least one
    member of my household has to go to hospital each
    year for treatment. It costs US6 per treatment.
    We also need to buy teff stable starch, salt,
    sugar, soap, kerosene for lighting. We have to
    pay for schooling. Earlier we could cover
    expenses, now we cantThree of the children
    cant go to school because I cant afford the
    uniform. We have stopped buying teff and edible
    oil. We are eating mainly corn. The childrens
    skin is getting dry and they are showing signs of
    malnutrition. (Gresser and Tickell10).

  • Families Going Hungry
  • In March 2002, the World Food program said that
    the coffee crisis left 30,000 Hondurans
    suffering from hunger, with hundreds of children
    so malnourished that they needed to be
    hospitalized (Gresser and Tickell 10).
  • The EU and USAID reported in January 2002 that
    there would be increased poverty and food
    security issues for coffee farmers in Ethiopia,
    saying that farmers were selling their assets and
    cutting down on food (Gresser and Tickell).
  • The income of the worst-off farmers who are
    dependent solely on coffee are now categorized as
    pre-starvation in Viet Nams Dak Lak province
    (Gresser and Tickell 10).

  • Worsening health care
  • Earlier, Mohammed talked about medical expenses,
    this is a problem for many coffee farmers and
    their countrys ability to deal with other health
    concerns like HIV/AIDS (Gresser and Tickell 11).
  • In Ethiopia, where coffee is the major export
    and 700,000 households depend on it for their
    livelihoods and millions more for part of their
    income, the fall in coffee export earning poses
    serious challenges to the countrys ability to
    deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis(Gresser and
    Tickell 11).
  • It is estimated that over three million
    Ethiopians are infected with HIV/AIDS and The
    Ministry of Health has projected that treatment
    for HIV/AIDS alone will account for over 30 per
    cent of the total health expenditure by 2014
    (Gresser and Tickell 11).

  • The burden of the disease not only has the
    potential to make extraordinary and unrealisable
    claims on the governments health budget, which
    in part but must be funded by coffee revenues
    (Gresser and Tickell 11).
  • HIV/AIDS has huge economic affects which are
  • low productivity due to sickness
  • the problem of finding money for medical care and
  • funeral expenses (Gresser and Tickell 11).
  • Women are particularly badly affected, both
    because of the added responsibilities arising
    from ill-health in the family and because they
    tend to go without when families have to make
    choices about who receives treatment (Gresser
    and Tickell 11).

  • National Economy Problems
  • The drying up of coffee cash in the local
    economy is one of the main reasons behind the
    collapse of several banks (Gresser and Tickell
  • In Central America, the crisis has been said to
    be having the impact of another hurricane
    Mitch in terms of income losses these countries
    have seen revenue from coffee exports fall 44 per
    cent in one year alone, from 1.7 bn in 1999/2000
    to 938m in 2000/01. Forecasts for 2001/02 are
    grim a further fall of 25 per cent (Gresser and
    Tickell 12).
  • In one year, Ethiopias coffee export fell 42
    percent from 275m to 149m (Gresser and Tickell

  • In Uganda, where roughly one-quarter of the
    population depends on coffee in some way, coffee
    exports for the eight months to June 2002
    remained at almost the same volume as the year
    before but earning dropped by almost 30 per cent
    (Gresser and Tickell 12).
  • Even though export prices decline, the price of
    imports to producer countries does not fall
    nearly as fast, which then leads to a
    deterioration in terms of trade (Gresser and
    Tickell 12).
  • A coffee farmer would have to sell more than
    twice as many coffee beans now as in 1980 to buy
    a Swiss Army Knife (Gresser and Tickell 12).
  • Debt repayment becomes extremely difficult
    because the debt remains fixed in US dollars but
    the value of coffee is steadily falling (Gresser
    and Tickell 12).

  • Breaking up Families
  • Farmers are forced to sell their land or leave in
    search for other work to survive
  • In some communities, we see that migration to
    Mexico city is very big. In one community, about
    three or four months ago, about eight trucks came
    in and took away all the people who could work to
    Mexican fincasthey stayed there between four to
    six months. That means social disruption of the
    family is incredible. Says Jeronimo Bollen, from
    a Guatemala co-operative, Manos Campesinos
    (Gresser and Tickell 9).

  • Coffee workers are forced into town to find
    work and housing resulting in a near collapse of
    the urban infrastructure in many coffee-growing
    regions of Guatemala. The population of
    Columbia, for example, a town about an hour away
    from Quezaltengo, has grown from 16,000 in 1994
    to 35,000 in 2001. New residents are forced
    into squalid slums, living in one-room shacks
    made of wood, plastic sheeting and sheet metal,
    with no plumbing or electricity. Crime in
    rampant. (Laslett, par.10).
  • Women are effected by this crisis very directly
    because as their husband goes off to find other
    work, the women and children are left to work the
    land. This results in children having to leave
    school to help the family (Gresser and Tickell
  • Child Labor
  • Children are forced to work in the coffee
    plantations because fathers are forced to leave
    and also just do to the fact that families need
    additional hands to make ends meet.
  • Because of this situation, many coffee workers
    bring their children to help them in the fields
    in order to pick the daily quota. These child
    laborers are not officially employed and
    therefore not subject to labor protections.
    While children in most rural families work at an
    earlier age than urban children, a February 4
    investigative report by ABC-affiliate KGO
    television in San Francisco revealed children as
    young as 6 or 8 years old at work in the fields.
    (FAQ par 7). makemeal/ima
  • Children Leaving School
  • Children are forced to leave school because
    fathers leave and also because families cannot
    afford to send their children to school.
  • Bruno Selugo (aged 17) and his brother Michael
    (15), who live in Mpigi District, Uganda, have
    both had to drop out of school because they
    cannot afford the fees (Gresser and Tickell 11).
  • I cant be successful if I dont go to
    school, says Bruno. I have been send home
    again and again from secondary schoolThey just
    send you away if you dont have the feesThis is
    the main coffee season. Everyone used to go back
    to school with the money from coffee, but now the
    money is not thereAll I want is to go to
    school (Gresser and Tickell 11).

  • A head teacher at Brunos school, Patrick Kayanja
  • The number of students is very low. Much as we
    try to reduce the fees, the parents cannot pay.
    They always took cash from selling coffee but now
    it is gone. There was a time, between 1995 and
    1997, when we had 500 students. Three years ago
    we had 250. Last year we started with 140 and
    ended with 54. This year we cannot go beyond
    120, the way I see the situation with farmers
    (Gresser and Tickell 11).

  • Seasonal Plantation Workers
  • These are coffee workers who are always away from
    home who work on small to medium plantation (10
    to 50 hectares, and big plantation (more than 50
    hectares) (Gresser and Tickell 11).
  • Seasonal workers are faced with not being able to
    supplement food with crops and suddenly having no
    job because they can be fired (Gresser and
    Tickell 11).
  • According to a UN report, 87.5 of rural workers
    had temporary or migratory jobs in 1992
    (Laslett, par 7).
  • Traditionally coffee workers lived on the
    plantations they worked but now owners have
    thrown them off and replaced them with temporary
    workers (Laslett par 7).
  • Housing conditions are awful
  • They are typically housed in large barns or
    bunk-houses with no privacy, lacking basic
    requirement such as clean water and adequate
    sanitary arrangement (Gresser and Tickell 12).
  • Many times they cook, wash, and bathe from the
    same water source (FAQ par 7).

  • Seasonal workers were paid a daily wage but now
    they are paid a piece rate (Laslett, par9).
  • According to several coffee workers, the standard
    pay for cleaning one cuerda (24.5 square yards)
    of land is 1. Cleaning two cuerdas a day is
    possible, but a lot of work. This means that an
    average daily wage for coffee workers is 1.75
    per day, significantly below the daily legal
    minimum of 2.75. Women and children are often
    paid half that amount. (Laslett, par 9).
  • During the coffee season (3 to 4 months, which is
    not long) is when seasonal workers earn the most
    (Laslett par9).
  • Workers can earn 2.50 for 100 pounds of coffee.
    On a good day, workers can earn 3.50 for 150
    pounds of coffee (Laslett par 9).
  • After the season is over, seasonal workers find
    themselves in the same situation as coffee
    farmers who have to migrate to the city in
    search of other income.

  • Denied Worker Rights
  • Seasonal workers do not have the basic rights to
    unionize or negotiate wages (Gresser and Tickell
  • In Guatemala, the coffee workers tried to
    unionized but received much opposition (Laslett
  • The head of the union, Otto Rolando Sacuqui,
    received death threats (Laslett par2).
  • His family was thrown out of their house on the
    plantation where his family lived for generations
    (Laslett par 3).
  • The unions paper work and the unions funds were
    stolen (Laslett par 3).
  • Where there is labor legislation, it is often
    overridden or ignored (Gresser and Tickell 12).

  • Workers at Finca Maria de Lourdes unionized in
    1992 and tried to negotiate wage raises, from
    which they were earning half the legal minimum
    wage (Laslett par 4).
  • Negotiations failed and 125 of 150 workers
    joined, in response the owner raised wages but
    fired 31 workers (Laslett par 4).
  • The union went to court and won reinstatement and
    back pay for all fired workers but two years
    later the owner fired 21 more workers and another
    34 in 1997 (Laslett par4).
  • The owner tried to pass management to pretend to
    be workers and have the unions legal status
    dismissed (Laslett par 4).
  • The owner denied children school and refused to
    sell cornmeal for tortillas, which is the staple
    of the Guatemalan diet (Laslett par 4).

  • In their struggle to win justice and a union
    contract, a majority of the 55 fired union
    members continue to live on the plantation,
    refusing to leave. As of today June 2001, they
    have still not been reinstated, despite the fact
    that the courts have ruled in their favor many
    times (Laslett par 5).
  • There was a warrant issued for the owners arrest
    but this also goes unenforced (Laslett par5).
  • Owners get out of giving their workers their
    rights such as benefits by cheating the system.
  • Guatemalan law states that workers must work
    continuously for 3 months to be eligible to
    unionize or to be eligible for social security
    programs (retirement or disability benefits)
    (Laslett par8).
  • Workers must work continuously for the same
    employer for 6 months in order to receive their
    legal two annual bonuses ( to 2 months pay)
    (Laslett par 8).
  • Owners cheat the system by rarely keeping
    workers for more than 90 consecutive days
    (Laslett par8).

  • Another example of unfair treatment of coffee
    workers is of 57 workers at a plantation called
    Finca Asuncion in Quezaltenango, Guatemala.
  • The four members who organized the union in
    September 1997 were immediately fired (Laslett
    par 14). Of the 57 who were in the union, only 3
    members still worked at the plantation 2 yrs.
    later (Laslett par 14).
  • When the union first started, the ownerf tried
    many things to destroy the union.
  • In December 1998, he accused the union of being
    connected to armed guerrillas-after the peace
    Accords had been signed. Early one morning, over
    300 military personnel and police occupied the
    community searching for guns and other proof of
    guerrilla activity. There was nothing to be
    found (Laslett par 16).

  • The owner tried to sell his plantation to his
    wife and two daughters to avoid any legal
    obligations (Laslett par 17).
  • He tried to deny union workers access to water
    and firewood (Laslett par 18).
  • He pulled out fruit trees, which were planted by
    the workers grandparents because the union
    workers were eating them (Laslett par 18).
  • He order the church to be boarded up with the
    justification that it was being used for union
    meetings (Laslett par 18).
  • He denied children school (Laslett par 18).
  • He also blacklisted the union supporters by
    sending their names to other employersAs a
    result, union members were forced to travel long
    distances to find work or work under false names
    in local plantations (Laslett par 18).

  • Another plantation called Finca Violetais another
  • In 1992, Mario Acabel Peres and his family of
    nine lived in a one-room bamboo shack with a
    leaky roof (Laslett par 20).
  • Mario and his coworkers demanded
  • decent housing
  • a doctor visit once a month
  • school beyond the third grade
  • a non-abusive supervisor
  • the legal minimum wage
  • women to be paid the same as men (Laslett par 20).

  • Mario was fired 4 months after helping start the
    union (Laslett par 21).
  • The owner accused him of drunkenness and missing
    work, even though Mario doesnt drink alcohol.
    As in other cases, Mario and the other union
    leaders were blacklisted (Laslett par 21).
  • In 2001, 8 unionists were left (Laslett par 23).
  • Marios house was surrounded by the army twice.
  • During one of Marios many trips to the city for
    a court date, his wife had to fend off the
    owners effort to remove the roof from their
    house (Laslett par 23).
  • The owner removed the water system that provides
    water to their house (Laslett par 23).
  • In October 2000, one of the supervisors
    threatened Mario with death (Laslett par 23).

  • There are almost no national unions that attempt
    to organize all the workers in a particular
    industry. Rather, with few exceptions, workers
    are organized into small, company-based unions
    that remain isolated from other workers in their
    industry, even those that are unionized (Laslett
    par 24).
  • This lack of organization makes code-of-conduct
    campaigns, like the one aimed at Starbucks (which
    we address later), difficult to win because
    without organized workers to confirm or deny
    claims of improvements, codes of conduct have
    limited effect (Laslett par 26).

More Health Impacts
  • For communities surrounding the coffee farms
  • Pesticide use in technified coffee farms
    threatens the water supply of rural residents.
  • For example, serious public health and water
    quality impacts have been linked to pesticide use
    in Mexico in one documented case in 1987, more
    than 200 people became sick from drinking water
    contaminated with agricultural pesticides and
    fertilizers in the western Mexican state of
    Jalisco. (Rice ch. 4)

More Health Impacts
  • For the regular consumer
  • An average cup of java contains about 80 to 150
    milligrams of caffeine. (Dicum 116)
  • Too much coffee brings on caffeinism, a
    condition characterized by anxiety, irritability,
    nervousness, lightheadedness, and even diarrhea.
  • Scientific research on the physiological and
    psychological impacts of moderate coffee drinking
    has turned up very little evidence implicating
    the drink in serious harmful effects. (119)
  • Regardless of lack of scientific proof, remember
    that is not to the multinationals advantage to
    fund more substantial studies. It is, however,
    your responsibility to make sure that better
    studies are performed.

Distribution of Coffee
  • How do coffee get finally in our cup?
  • The distribution of coffee varies from country to
    country depending on the mechanisms of local and
    national regulations. More importantly, in the
    free-trade route, small farmers and farm workers
    are at the expense of the middle man and the big
    plantation owners. Those farmers who are able to
    sell their harvest, do so for very little money
    in exchange for loans or services. The following
    illustrates the path that coffee generally
    follows from tree to cup.

Distribution of Coffee Continuation
Source (Waridel,43)
Distribution of Coffee Continued
  • It starts off at the farmers plantations. Small
    scale farmers, who produce roughly half of the
    worlds coffee supply, are caught in the vicious
    cycle of poverty. They have limited land and
    limited resources,and they do not produce enough
    to export directly, so most have to sell their
    crop to the local merchant (known as coyotes in
    Latin America) at low prices. (Waridel 42)
  • Because small farmers do not get enough money to
    meet their financial needs from harvest to
    harvest, they also have to borrow money from the
    coyote or middle man (Waridel 42).
  • It is usually the case that governments promote
    technified coffee crops by offering loans
    oriented towards specific projects, such as the
    purchase of pesticide or the planting of certain
    export crops. (Waridel 44)

Distribution of Coffee Continued
  • Then, depending on the situation, the farmer
    would mill their coffee themselves to get a
    better price for it. However, some farmers dont
    have enough coffee to justify the cost of the
    pick-up truck, and are too far away to take their
    coffee to the mill by bicycle. These farmers have
    to take the lower price offered by the local
    middleman for their unprocessed cherries.
    (Gresser and Tickell 24)
  • The plantation workers at the large landowners
    farm have more to loose that small farmers
    because they have to migrate from plantation to
    plantation following the harvesting season
    (usually traveling with their families-women and
    children), and they are paid by the amount of
    coffee they pick. (Waridel 44)

Distribution of Coffee Continued
  • Because the need for labor in large plantations
    is seasonalpeaking during the harvest many
    regions have developed systems of migrant labor.
    Usually, these temporary laborers come from
    regions even worse off than the coffee-producing
    areas. Plantation labor in Guatemala, for example
    is trucked to the coastal plantations from the
    impoverished highlands. Similarly, the Costa
    Rican harvest is undertaken by poor Nicaraguans
    and Panamanians. (Dicum 47)
  • From the local middleman or the large landowner,
    coffee is sent to the processors, which are
    often small entrepreneursalso called coyotes
    by producersalthough in some cases, processing
    is done in factories owned by multinational
    corporations. (Waridel 50

Distribution of Coffee Continued
  • Next the exporter, who makes sure the beans are
    of the best quality for export, makes sure that
    the right coffee is sent to the right place at
    the right time. Their goal, naturally is the same
    as of that of every intermediary, to buy coffee
    at the lowest time and resell it at the highest
    profit. (Waridel 50)
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