Friday, 16 March 2012

Fair Trade and Indigenous People

Today I read a blog by a group called Cultural Survival. This group works with and defends indigenous peoples around the world. The blog was written by Mark Camp and Jenn Goodman, two staff from Cultural Survival who, in 2008, had received grants from the Toward Sustainability Foundation to conduct field interviews with indigenous people in Guatemala involved in Fair Trade. They focused their research on coffee and crafts, explaining that "these industries seemed to be natural choices, as coffee is second only to oil as an internationally traded commodity, and crafts are indelibly linked to indigenous peoples, both in terms of their cultures and livelihoods." (Cultural Survival: 2010) After interviewing indigenous people, both involved with and not involved with Fair Trade organizations, about their craft production, they found that crafts such as weaving, painting, jewellery and stone carving (among many others) are their main source of incomes, sometimes supplemented by small-scale agriculture. These crafts are also important because they are "one of the identifying features of indigenous cultures." (Cultural Survival: 2011)

Cultural Survivals field study in Guatemala prompted me to do more research on the relationship between Fair Trade and indigenous peoples of the world. Daniel Jaffee explains the importance of coffee to indigenous people in Mexico. The coffee plantations were established on land that was taken from the indigenous peoples in the states of Chiapas and Veracruz in the 1800's. Indigenous people and peasants were used as labour by the plantain owners, and until the early twentieth century, Mexico did not have "a strong national coffee oligarchy." (2007:39) Eventually a "post revolutionary agrarian reforms began to redistribute coffee land and local people stole coffee seedlings from nearby plantations." (2007:39) In Jaffee's book, an Oaxacan researcher by the name of Josefina Aranda Bezaury notes that "By 1920, coffee production had developed a new identity, becoming not just a crop imposed by outsiders but a vital part of the rural economy and a vital source of local identity." (2007:39) We can see that coffee has become important in the daily lives of the indigenous people of Mexico, so much so that they depend on it to keep their local identity and economy alive.  By applying Fair Trade standards to the production and selling of coffee in this region, we can be sure that the indigenous people are being treated fairly and receive appropriate pay for a product that they work hard to produce.

Coffe Farmer in Oaxaca, Mexico


Compasionate Beans

Cultural Survival
   2010 Fair Trade & Indigenous People              

Jaffee, Daniel
   2007 Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability and Survival. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
   University of California Press

1 comment:

  1. I like your blog and most important the topic is very informatics and the term used and describe this terms like Cultural Survival, Fair Trade. Here i got the very useful info.
    Best Regards
    Arshiya international Logistics Company - warehousing and distribution