Malongo events A TASTE FOR HARD WORK - Coffee and fair trade


Everyone today has heard of fair trade. But does the general public know exactly what this means? Does it have any idea of the major principles that govern it, of its successes and difficulties, of the future challenges that it will have to take up?

It is with this objective, and in the hope of getting over to you our determination to help it to gain even more ground, that we offer you this special edition, A Taste for Hard Work.

Here is an overview, an inventory, if you will, of Malongo's work in the world of fair trade coffee: 20 years of commitment, exploration, encounters, projects and struggle in the course of which our singular vision of the coffee economy has been forged.

In A Taste for Hard Work, we want to talk about our eternal passion for coffee growing. It is the source of the energy that drives Malongo each and every day to brave complex problems of a political, economic, agronomic and human nature, which have to be confronted if we are to see the birth of new fair trade certified vintages. This title is also a tribute to the effort that you, professionals and private individuals alike, make by paying more for a coffee of better quality, more respectful of man and the environment.

Finally and above all, it pays homage to the strength of character shown by small producers to bring about change in their future. Working using traditional methods in a difficult natural environment is the only way of competing with products from mechanical arsenals, bloated with fertilisers and pesticides.

Traditional farming means putting in a hard day's work each and every day, but it is to this hard work that we owe the encounter in our morning cup of coffee with authentic blends of flavours, as unique as the history of those lands and as rich as the diversity of the world.


The only alternative to neoliberalism

Supported by consumers themselves, fair trade has taken off. It is a new, regulated market, based on an innovative economic model, administrated at the top by four major international organisations (FLO, WFTO, NEWS and EFTA), which have defined it as follows: "a commercial partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which aims for greater equity in international trade".

Its basic principle? The guaranteed minimum price. A sale price independent of stock exchange fluctuations whenever the stock exchange price falls below a certain threshold, calculated to cover production costs and ensure that coffee growers have a sufficient margin to live in dignity.

Three pillars are built on this foundation:

– An economic pillar with, among other things, the existence of pre-funding formulae for harvests or the allocation of development premiums intended to fund projects;

– A social pillar that aims to group producers into autonomous communities in order that they may enjoy solid and lasting social rights. By organising themselves, small producers reinforce their ability to develop and determine their own future;

– Finally, the environmental pillar. Fair trade certification imposes strict specifications on this issue.

The rights acquired thanks to fair trade also go hand in hand with certain obligations. Standards as to the transparency of cooperatives must be respected, as must work norms. Traders and users of the label under licence also abide by certain rules. Each one pays an annual membership fee and undergoes inspections by an authorised body, such as FLO-Cert.