Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Fair Trade

Economic action to create a just global economy for farmers and artisans



Coffee is the second most heavily traded commodity in the world after oil. Over 25 million farmers and their families depend on coffee for their livelihoods. As a result of years of work on the part of Fair Trade activists, coffee is the most widespread Fair Trade commodity. Learn about the cooperatives who produce Fair Trade coffee and more about the coffee industry below.


Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative



Photo and profile provided
by TransFair USA

Based in the Segovia region of northern Nicaragua, PRODECOOP (Promotora de Desarollo Cooperativo de Las Segovias) now includes 40 cooperatives and 2,318 families. It was established in 1993 to provide its member families with assistance in sustainable production and the marketing of their coffee. From sales to the Fair Trade market, PRODECOOP supports many social and quality control programs, including:

  • A scholarship program that has provided dozens of scholarships to members’ children so that they can attend primary and secondary school. PRODECOOP has also been able to provide books and backpacks for over 2,000 students.
  • An organic production program aimed at improving the quality of coffee through environmentally-friendly production techniques.
  • Women's participation. Membership includes 504 women with several women in senior management, including the CEO.
  • The purchase of a dry mill, establishment of 13 maintenance facilities for depulping machines, and three storage facilities for its coffee.
  • A revolving fund for building and improving members’ houses.

“With Fair Trade income we have made improvements to our community. Before, we slept on the ground and did not have basic amenities. Now some of us have floors, some furniture, sanitary services, and potable water. If we sold all of our production at Fair Trade prices our dreams would come true.” —Alexa Marin Colindres, PRODECOOP member


More about Coffee:

  • According to Oxfam International, coffee farmers receive one percent or less of the price of a cup of conventional coffee sold at a coffee shop; farmers receive only about six percent of the price of a bag of conventional coffee bought in the supermarket.
  • Small coffee farmers are often forced to sell to middlemen who pay them half the market price, generally between $.30-.50 per pound.
  • Over 600,000 coffee farmers in Central America alone are unemployed due to the volatile coffee market. In Ethiopia, where 700,000 families depend on coffee, the economic instability makes it more difficult to deal with the country's HIV/AIDS crisis.
  • Coffee farmers trading in the Fair Trade system receive a floor price of $1.31 per pound, or $1.51 per pound for Fair Trade Certified™ and organic certified coffee. This is nearly double what farmers currently receive on the conventional market.
  • Fair Trade empowers small-scale farmers. Typically, the farmers cultivate less than 3 hectares of coffee and harvest 1,000-3,000 pounds of unroasted coffee a year.
  • About 85% of Fair Trade Certified coffee is shade grown and either passive or certified organic.

Find where to buy Fair Trade coffee near you! »


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