Despite commitments by world leaders yesterday, World Coffee Conference is business as usual

Published: 22 November 2005

Salvador, Brazil - Despite commitments yesterday from Presidents Lula of Brazil and Uribe of Colombia to find new ways of addressing the coffee crisis and alleviating the poverty faced by small scale family coffee farmers, it was business as usual at the World Coffee Conference this weekend.

Salvador, Brazil - Despite commitments yesterday from Presidents Lula of Brazil and Uribe of Colombia to find new ways of addressing the coffee crisis and alleviating the poverty faced by small scale family coffee farmers, it was business as usual at the World Coffee Conference this weekend.


The presentations and discussions that followed yesterday's opening ceremony were dominated by the agendas of large multi-national coffee companies and organizations. For example, in the session dedicated to addressing the coffee crisis, only one panelist out of the six represented a coffee producing country. The other five panelists represented consumer interests.

"For the vision both Presidents Lula and Uribe shared yesterday to become a reality, policy makers and heads of industry must make a concrete commitment to engaging underrepresented farmers in international debates such as this one," said Lorenzo Castillo, head of the Junta Nacional del Café in Peru.

"It's disappointing that the few farmers who were able to make the trip to Brazil did not have a structured forum for sharing their ideas," said Seth Petchers of Oxfam America. "Small scale producers grow 75% of the world's coffee - there needs to be a substantial focus on their business needs as well."

Since 2001 small scale family coffee producers have suffered through the coffee crisis - an economic and humanitarian crisis which pushed millions further into poverty, and forced many to abandon their land because they could no longer afford to farm it. International forums such as the World Coffee Conference held this weekend in Salvador, Brazil are opportunities for debate on how to best address the crisis which still plagues farmers today.

Pradeep Nandipur of the Karnataka Growers Federation in India asked, "I wonder if the participants at the World Coffee Conference know what the coffee crisis has truly meant for producers?"

Nandipur explained, "Indian coffee farmers were devastated financially and emotionally by the coffee crisis. In my region there were farmers who committed suicide because they could see no way out of their mounting debt, they had no way to repay it because their income was gone - that is how desperate the situation is for them."

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