Your daily coffee fix may be doing way more good than you know

In the predominantly mountainous nation of Timor-Leste, approximately 30% of the population lives below the poverty line ($1.30 AUD per day). The vast majority of women (70%) deliver their babies at home without skilled assistance or postnatal care, and infant mortality rates are extremely high.

Timor-Leste is located just 900 kilometers north of Darwin, Australia, which makes it difficult to comprehend. However, the citizens of this nation are resourceful.

In 1999, for instance, the Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) was founded in the wake of the destruction left by Indonesia’s withdrawal from Timor-Leste following the country’s independence. Its mission was to successfully market coffee produced by villager farmers.

It would be an understatement to say it was a success, as the organization now has over 19,600 members from 16 base cooperatives and 494 small-scale farmer groups.

CCT obtained Fairtrade certification in 2001, and with the additional revenue generated from Fairtrade sales, the cooperative has enacted the following:

A healthcare program consisting of seven stationary health clinics and twenty-six mobile health clinics that provide weekly health services to remote communities. Collectively, the clinics see an average of 18,000 patients per month, and all co-op members receive free services.

Members of this business skills development program receive instruction in bookkeeping, management, the English language, and computer skills.

A wholesale purchasing co-op that benefits the local community by providing reasonably priced consumer goods to rural small retail outlets.

Additionally, CCT uses its Fairtrade Premium* to operate and maintain the industrial equipment and machinery required to maintain coffee quality and supply.

An example is a commercial coffee pulper. Even though it is an older technology from India, its simplicity meets the requirements of CCT. The coffee is pulped using a rough disc, and then water is added so that the cherries can be sorted by density. After being sorted, the beans are fermented for 28 hours, washed, and then dried overnight in large fields covered with tarps (above left) to protect them from the moisture in the night air. During the day, while the beans are drying in the fields, they are stirred every 1–2 hours so that the moisture content is reduced to 11%, which is the standard for premium coffee. The harvest season generates enormous employment opportunities for the local population, which helps to alleviate some of the region’s persistent poverty issues.

Seven essential things to know about Fairtrade
What exactly is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade modifies the way in which trade is conducted by providing better prices, decent working conditions, and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing nations.

However, purchasing Fairtrade products does not only indicate that farmers and workers were compensated fairly. Fairtrade also focuses on gender equality, environmental protection, and transparent supply chains; it aims to transform the trade system.

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