2nd World Coffee Conference opens with focus on poverty and injustice facing small scale coffee farmers

Published: 23 November 2005

Salvador, Brazil - Today at the 2nd World Coffee Conference's opening ceremony, international agency Oxfam International was pleased to hear the presidents of two of the most powerful coffee producing countries in the world - President Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil - finally announce that: We can no longer depend on market dogma to solve the coffee crisis. We must find a new equilibrium between demand and supply to face the structural market failures that are pushing coffee farmers further into poverty.

Salvador, Brazil - Today at the 2nd World Coffee Conference's opening ceremony, international agency Oxfam International was pleased to hear the presidents of two of the most powerful coffee producing countries in the world - President Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil - finally announce that:


    * We can no longer depend on market dogma to solve the coffee crisis. We must find a new equilibrium between demand and supply to face the structural market failures that are pushing coffee farmers further into poverty.
    * To find solutions and to keep coffee producing countries from collapsing, we must find a new approach to the coffee crisis that focuses on the social and environmental implications of the coffee market.
    * Solutions to the coffee crisis must defend and include the poorest in our societies.

    * Without a solution to the coffee crisis, most coffee producing countries will not to be able to meet their UN Millennium Development Goals.
    * Coffee producing countries must work together to challenge unfair trade rules.

President Lula stated that it "is not fair that consuming countries make more off of coffee than the people who hack the ground" to plant it. He commented that free market should mean eliminating unfair tariffs and subsidies. Later in his speech he also said, "We need to provide dignity and respect to those who work day and night to plant and harvest coffee."

Seth Petchers, Oxfam International's Coffee Campaign Lead, stated, "After three years of Oxfam's coffee campaign to alleviate the devastation and poverty caused by the coffee crisis, today's announcements are a historic step." Petchers continued, "Oxfam will continue to work with the small scale family coffee farmers it represents to ensure these announcements become a reality."

Oxfam International will continue its Coffee Campaign (www.maketradefair.org) by:

    * Working with industry and policy makers such as the ICO to raise the voice of underrepresented coffee farmers.
    * Supporting coffee cooperatives worldwide in their work and alliance building.
    * Continuing its popular campaigning to raise public support and concern for small scale family coffee farmers and the unfair trade rules they are up against.

Earlier in the ceremony program, President Uribe declared, "I prefer the economists criticize me than to allow market dogma to destroy the lives of coffee producers."

Contact Information

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:
Helen DaSilva at hdasilva@oxfamamerica.org or +55 71 9606 3489 or
Renato Guimarães at nato.guima@gmail.com or +55 71 9991 4386