When coffee as a product is the primary focus rather than the people it affects, it can be a difficult endeavor to convince others to join efforts of ethics and sustainability, or have any concern for the wellbeing of those involved in the industry before export. The issues involving ethics and sustainability not only include the dehumanization of people, but the despoilment of the land and the effects of export as well. What many fail to realize is that coffee is not a plant that can be picked from year-round. Like other crops, the coffee cherry has a peak season in which it best produces. Essentially, the coffee plants and the land where they are grown is being depleted because farmers can’t afford to only pick during the peak of the season. This also effects the quality of coffee being harvested. In other instances, farmers do not profit enough to be able to re-invest funds into proper care of the land for organic fertilizers or irrigation systems.
After Trade is our attempt to reverse these priorities. Which is to say, After Trade is foremost about people, not the quality of coffee being produced. Our hope is to commit to a farm and its people, work alongside them, develop relationships of trust, and take the necessary measures to work toward improving their farm, and as a result, improving the quality of beans produced. Part of our work will involve land development, such as planting shade trees or constructing washing stations. Additionally, it may prove beneficial to develop alternative sources of income that would provide subsistence during the off seasons of the coffee harvest, such as building chicken coops for poultry farming and egg sales. On this point is where our work with EITanzania doing sustainable development projects will overlap with our work with After Trade. For us, this is just as much a theological concern and responsibility as it is environmental or humanitarian.
Today is Earth Day. If you are looking for ways to celebrate, we would be incredibly grateful if you might consider donating to After Trade. Doing so would help us get to Tanzania and begin this work towards reconciliation between farmers, roasters, coffee, and the land.
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