During the course of this commitment, the Cordes Foundation, Fair Trade USA, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will:
- Identify communities in Rwanda from which to source coffee for this pilot project.
- Develop two or more suites of consumer-education and outreach resources, including web-based promotional material designed to tell the stories of Rwandan farmers first-hand, point-of-sale promotional packages, and events-based outreach activities conducted in collaboration with the national grassroots Fair Trade movement through the Fair Trade Towns USA campaign.
- Conduct parallel promotional campaigns employing the resource packages developed.
- Evaluate the results of the outreach campaigns against controls.
- Identify 'best practice' consumer mobilization strategies.
- Integrate the results of the test into Fair Trade USA's, Fair Trade Towns USA's, and participating cooperatives' strategies for consumer outreach and education going forward.
In partnership with the Cordes Foundation and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Fair Trade USA will extend the range of services offered to Rwandan coffee farmers beyond the producer-to-roaster linkages the organization has promoted in the past, forging direct ties to motivated consumer groups and grassroots advocates to Fair Trade farmers, integrating consumers into the international development process and enabling participating farmers to increase their capacity to market directly to the public. Together, the Cordes Foundation, Fair Trade USA, GMCR, and its partners will amplify the benefits experienced by Rwandan coffee growers, 'complete' the value chain for Rwandan coffee, and promote greater income and self-sufficiency for participating farmers going forward. Cordes Foundation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Fair Trade USA will also support the long-term impact of Fair Trade by integrating the lessons learned from this project into producer-support and market-development strategies around the world in the future.
Coffee, grown exclusively by small family farmers in Rwanda, some cultivating plots as little as half a hectare, is the source of approximately one-third of Rwanda's foreign exchange revenue. It plays a crucial role in the country's still-tenuous economic rebuilding, and represents a lifeline for as many as half a million smallholder farming families. According to some estimates, between 40-50 percent of the Rwandan population depends directly or indirectly on the coffee economy for their livelihoods. Rwandan soil and climate conditions are ideal for the production of high-quality specialty coffee, but coffee development potential in Rwanda is only beginning to be realized. Until very recently, few farmers' organizations have been able to achieve the high levels of quality and organizational professionalism that international markets demand, and that would enable them to use their coffee to fuel sustainable local development. These challenges have been exacerbated by farmers' geographical isolation, a historically inefficient national coffee market, and by the humanitarian disasters of the civil war and genocide of the 1990s, which decimated many rural populations.
Participation in the global Fair Trade system offers coffee farmers in Rwanda and beyond access to a growing range of capacity-building resources, including technical assistance from Fair Trade USA's Global Producer Services (GPS) unit, which has worked on the ground with coffee farmers in Rwanda for more than three years, providing targeted capacity-building and market linkage services. Since Fair Trade USA already works throughout the coffee value chain, from farm to retailer, the extension of these development efforts to the consumer is a logical step. Fair Trade USA's local presence and history of successful collaboration with Rwandan farmers, industry leaders, and grassroots advocates has created ideal conditions to enhance the development services offered to farmers by developing tools that enable them to connect with and motivate their international customers.
SEEKING: Financial resources, implementing partners
Fair Trade USA and our partners in this effort are very pleased with our progress to date, and anticipate great producer impact and learning with the project's completion and evaluation this fall. Nevertheless, we welcome additional funding collaborators to support further grassroots and industry outreach--in addition to the 'virtual outreach' that is already underway--on the part of Rwandan farmers, beginning with a Rwandan farmer tour of Fair Trade Towns this October.
OFFERING: Implementing partners, best-practice information
Fair Trade USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1998, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth. Fair Trade USA has achieved this mission by certifying and promoting Fair Trade products. Fair Trade Certification is a guarantee of rigorous third-party auditing of the supply chains for all products bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.
Along with auditing and certification, Fair Trade USA has extensive experience in supply chain development, mapping, and management, identifying both market opportunities on behalf of producers and new supply partners for industry leaders. Fair Trade is also experienced in the research and development of new standards and certification systems for both agricultural products and, more recently, manufactured goods such as apparel and linens. We have also conducted feasibility studies to assess the potential of new industries where certification can benefit producers and other stakeholders, including diamonds.