Fair Trade and a Global Commodity: Coffee in Costa Rica by Pete Luetchford

By Pete Luetchford

Reasonable alternate is greatly considered as a common solid. This attention-grabbing anthropological learn takes a more in-depth examine a coffee-growing neighborhood and cooperatives in Costa Rica - and matters the reasonable exchange stream to severe scrutiny.

As with traditional espresso, Western call for for natural reasonable exchange produce is essentially met through extra prosperous people with greater landholdings. hence, it's stuck up within the conflicts of curiosity and resentments which are a part of the espresso as a complete. finally reasonable alternate fails to flee divisions that characterise other kinds of creation and consumption.

All growers are united of their feedback of the excessive margins amassed through local and transnational processors and exporters. Sustainability, simply rewards and social unity have shaped a part of the area view of those agricultural groups for many years. This booklet indicates how there's a lot universal floor among the worlds of the commodity grower and the priorities of the reasonable alternate circulate - if now not inevitably continuously within the methods we would feel.

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Extra info for Fair Trade and a Global Commodity: Coffee in Costa Rica (Anthropology, Culture and Society)

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The figures appear encouraging for the cooperative and for fair trade; Coopeldos consistently outperforms the Turín plant and the fair-trade premiums kick in when gate prices are low. Nevertheless, this cannot be seen as representative of a general picture, even nationally. In particular, it should be borne in mind that Turín is a small and inefficient plant and Coopeldos faces limited competition, a situation not enjoyed by cooperatives in other parts of the country. 41 According to Carlos Vargas at Coocafé, the primary effect of fair trade today is ‘psychological’, rather than financial; it encourages producers to continue working and boosts morale.

Close relations between the personnel of affiliated cooperatives and staff at headquarters is key; they have frequent telephone contact, attend weekly gatherings of the Coocafé administrative council, and the managers of the individual cooperatives determine financial and political policy at monthly meetings. The results of the work of this close-knit group of business people can be measured in fiscal terms. After five years of operation the capital assets of Coocafé had reached 50 million colones, but since 1992 the figure has increased by the same amount year on year.

39 Coocafé, so one argument goes, no longer needs the preferential trade terms on offer. Managers deny this, and vigorously defend the right to participate. They point out that to exclude them from fair trade would be a punishment for their own success. Their achievement is possible because they operate in an environment of political stability, unlike their war-torn neighbours, and to bar them from fair trade would, in effect, be a punishment for their country’s democratic and peaceful traditions.

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