Coffee & Fairtrade Rwanda
We all enjoy a coffee when we’re out shopping. But when you buy a cappuccino in the high street, how much of the price you pay do you think goes to the person who produced the coffee beans?
The actual figure is… 0.05% This is the percentage that a Rwandan coffee producer gets from the average price charged for a cup of coffee in a Western country.
Surprised? Do you think it’s fair? • why is this figure so low? This presentation looks at: • what effect does it have on the producers? • what can we do about it? and • where does coffee come from?
Rwanda is a small country in Africa, about the size of Wales. Rwanda
It has active volcanoes along its borders with Uganda and Congo. Because of Rwanda’s good rainfall, there are many lakes. This volcano is Nyiragongo, by Lake Kibuye in the west of Rwanda.
Rwanda’s famous mountain gorillas live on the lush slopes of the volcanoes.
The fertile volcanic soil and plentiful rainfall mean that crops grow well. The crop growing around this typical Rwandan village is sorghum, one of the staple foods of Rwanda. It can be made into porridge and beer.
With such good conditions for growing food, 90% of Rwandans are subsistence farmers.
But look at this photo. What is happening? People are being forced to cultivate land which is too steep. This causes the erosion in the photo. This shows that the farmland no longer produces enough to feed people, so they have to farm less suitable land.
Why is this? • Global warming means rain in Rwanda is less reliable. • Global dimming means less rain. In January 1994, the World Food Programme warned that 800,000 people were at risk of starvation in Rwanda. This means: Remember that date and the number of people.
So if your land does not provide enough food, what can you do? Make the land profitable – grow cash crops like coffee and use the money to buy food. Look at this photo of a Rwandan coffee packet. See how important coffee is to Rwanda. Look at the man’s shoes. Not many people in Rwanda own shoes.
Up to 75% of Rwanda's foreign exchange earnings come from coffee. This gave producer countries quotas of coffee they were allowedto sell. Coffee used to give Rwanda a good income. Rich countries and poor countries made an agreement in the 1950s through the United Nations, called the International Coffee Agreement. Because the amount of coffee on the market was controlled, the price was stable.
But look at this graph: It shows the price of 100kg of coffee between 1997 and 2003.
What happened? In 1989, the United States government, under pressure from multinational companies, refused to re-sign the International Coffee Agreement. Without US support,the Agreement ended. More coffee came on to the market, and the price dropped. The Rwandan economy collapsed within months.
4 companies dominate the world coffee market: How can companies influence the US government? • Nestlé • Phillip Morris • Procter and Gamble • Sara Lee Coffee is the second-biggest commodity by value in the world.
Nestlé and Procter and Gamble alone control more than 50% of world coffee trade. That gives them enormous power. So if you are a poor coffee farmer, you have to accept the price offered to you by the major companies. If you don’t, who else are you going to sell your coffee to?
The average wage in Rwanda is £122 a year Nestlé’s net profits are £112 a second
that’s £3,534,579,439 a year or quadruple the entire national wealth of Rwanda Rwanda has debts of over £717,750,000 21% of its income is spent servicing its debt quadruple what it is able to spend on health
Has the price of coffee in the shops dropped? Us! • Returns on our investments and shares • Interest on our bank and building society accounts • Into our pension schemes • Lower taxes – if companies make greater profits, which are taxed, we have to pay less personal tax. No! So where do the profits go?
What happens when you can’t grow enough food and you don’t have money to buy food? When there is not enough food in the country to feed everyone?
Between April and June, 1994, 800,000 people were killed in the genocide in Rwanda. The photograph was taken at a school in the south of Rwanda where about 20,000 people were killed. The site is now a memorial to the genocide. Some of the clothes of those killed have been hung up here in the school’s assembly hall, so that no-one can deny what happened and so people will remember.
The reasons for the genocide are numerous and highly complex – perhaps they will never be fully understood. But it is generally agreed that the perceived pressure on the land and the economic collapse were two of the factors that contributed to it and that perhaps the genocide might not have happened without these factors. One of the things that the people who killed were told was that the people they killed would take their land.
The churches are again full of people singing. The country is being re-built. The children of Rwanda are smiling once more. The capital, Kigali The schools are once again full of students. 2003 2004
Now let’s look at this question: What do Rwandan coffee producers do for their 0.05%?
These are members of a coffee-producing co-operative in Kibuye Province. A coffee tree takes four years to come to fruition; during that time, it must be weeded and mulched – it’s very labour intensive.
The coffee cherries which contain the beans don’t all ripen at the same time, so every day people must return to the trees to pick the ripe cherries – again, very time-consuming.
Once picked, the skins of the cherries are removed by hand, and the beans are washed.
Most Rwandans get their water from the lake or river, so the water to wash the beans must be brought up in these 20 litre jerry cans.
After the cherries are washed, they are dried. It takes about two days to remove the skins from enough cherries to fill the basket. The basket will then be carried by hand to the nearest coffee buying post, about 4 km away. It weighs about 30kg, and will bring about 20p.
Being so labour-intensive, everyone must get involved, even the youngest children, so they can’t go to school.
Most children in the UK get diarrhoea in their lives. Imagine what it is like in Rwanda, where the water comes from lakes and rivers and there are almost no toilets. Diarrhoea is cheap and simple to treat– in the UK the medicine is free. There is no National Health Service in Rwanda.You must buy your own medicines. If you do not treat diarrhoea, you dehydrate. Eventually this kills you. If you cannot afford the few cents for medicine,you die.
6,000 children globally die of diarrhoea every day. In Rwanda, 20% of children don’t reach their 5th birthday. 10% don’t reach their 1st. The biggest killer is diarrhoea.
Even if you grow your own food, you still need money. This child cannot afford even second-hand clothes, and wears plastic bags instead. How old do you think he is? He is actually 15. He is very small for his age.
29% of children in Rwanda are clinically underweight. 43% will have their growth stunted by malnutrition. 50% of people in the UK are clinically overweight. 23% of people in the UK are clinically obese.
Beatrice is 43 years old, and would like you to know that she considers herself to be very poor. She says she cannot afford to buy clothes or medicine, or to mend the leaking roof of her house. She finds it very difficult to afford to send her children to school. Beatrice is a coffee grower who works in a co-operative. She says she feels powerless in the face of the falling price of coffee. Does she look rich or poor to you? What tells you this? How old do you think she is?
Life expectancy in the UKis 81 years - and rising. In Rwanda it is 39 years - and falling.
Seraphina’s greater income means that her diet is better, that she can buy nice clothes, that she has the time to have her hair done and the extra cash to buy some modest jewellery. Seraphina also works for a coffee co-operative. Do you think she is richer or poorer than Beatrice? Why? Seraphina has a greater income than Beatrice because the type of co-operative she works in is different. Seraphina works in a Fairtradeco-operative.
Fairtrade means: Fairtrade is an agreement between coffee sellers and buyers. It bypasses the big multinational companies. that coffee growers can have the confidence to invest in their own future and be able to work their own way out of poverty. • guaranteed minimum prices for producers – up to 3 times more Guarantees a better deal for Third World Producers • long term commitment to buy • premium for community support e.g. health and education • commitment to protect human rights and the environment • certification and training
Seraphina works in the Abahuzamugambi Co-operative in Maraba, Rwanda. ‘working together to develop ourselves’
The story of Abahuzamugambi’s coffee starts with the flowers in August. Sadly, they don’t smell of coffee.
By May the next year, the coffee cherries are ripe to be picked.
Then the cherries arebrought to the co-operative. Here, the cherries are being checked by (left to right), the grower, the president of the Co-op, Oswald, and Olive, who’s in charge of selection.
Then they are put into water. The best quality cherries are the densest, so any that float are taken out. Because Rwanda is quite cool due to its altitude, the cherries grow slowly, which makes them denser. There is a natural enzyme on the surface of the cherry which eats the sugar in the skin, fermenting it; this affects the flavour later on, so has to be controlled very carefully.
Still in the water, the cherries then have the skins sloughed off by these machines. Each cherry has two beans inside.
The beans then go into this water slide. It has a gentle gradient – 1 degree. The densest cherries settle first; the lighter are carried further by the current. This ingeniously automatically grades the beans.
The beans are then washed 5 times in clean spring water… …until they squeak like a little tree frog when rubbed.