World Fairtrade Challenge – more than 1.8 million coffee lovers join the world’s largest coffee break

World Fairtrade Challenge rallies 1.8 million in World's Largest Coffee Break

From New Zealand to Guatemala, South Africa to the USA, coffee lovers in 50 countries around the globe got together and drank more than 5.6 million cups of Fairtrade coffee to show their support for farmers working to adapt to climate change and improve their livelihoods.

Unpredictable weather patterns associated with climate change are affecting millions of coffee farmers around the world. Extreme weather, a sharp increase in pests and higher temperatures have made it increasingly difficult to grow and harvest coffee. Volatile prices and unfair trading practices have led to years of underinvestment in coffee farms, which threatens not just the livelihoods of coffee farmers, but the availability of coffee.

"There is a chain on Earth that starts at the bottom where producers are. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of climate change, the ones who get the least help, and carry all of the burden. It’s not fair," says Bayardo Betanco of PRODECOOP Fairtrade Coffee Cooperative in Nicaragua.

In early May, Fairtrade highlighted these issues and more by holding the world’s largest coffee break, recruiting more than 1.8 million coffee lovers to share a coffee and show support for coffee farmers and their families. In the US, thousands hosted and participated in Fairtrade coffee breaks. In addition large-scale coffee breaks were held at the Bolivian and Guatemalan embassies in Washington DC during the popular Passport DC event.

"The response to the World Fairtrade Challenge shows that coffee lovers from all walks of life want to do what they can to help coffee farmers," said Martin Hill, CEO of Fairtrade International. "We’ve had university and school students, work colleagues, retailers, cafes and coffee producers themselves taking part in the challenge. They’ve all sent a strong message to governments and community leaders: we recognize Fairtrade as a way to support coffee farmers facing the effects of climate change."

Beyond selling their coffee on Fairtrade terms, coffee farmers receive support that helps them access technical knowledge and funds which they can use to successfully adapt to, and mitigate against, the worst effects of climate change. More than 800,000 coffee farmers are part of the Fairtrade system in 30 countries. In 2013–14, they received a total of $65 million in Fairtrade Premium (the extra money they get in addition to the price when selling their coffee on Fairtrade terms). Farmers choose how to invest the Fairtrade Premium according to their priorities.

Consumers have the power to leverage support for coffee farmers – as the more of their crop the farmers sell on Fairtrade terms, the stronger they can benefit. The first-ever World Fairtrade Challenge has shown that small-scale coffee farmers are not alone in their fight against climate change, but have more than 1.8 million supporters raising their cups around the globe.

Learn more about the Fairtrade’s work in coffee.

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