I stumbled upon a conversation on Twitter regarding a new kind of cola,<a href=”http://www.ubuntu-trading.com/”> Ubuntu Cola </a>to be precise. I was told that this is a fairtrade cola that enables farmers in Malawi to earn a fair wage.
I was intrigued by this so I asked more questions and I learned that what makes this cola a fairtrade product is because the sugar used is fairtrade certified.
I did ask whether this cola was kind to teeth or even good for weight management and how exactly did the African farmers benefit? I also wanted to know whether this cola was processed packaged and distributed in Africa? In my mind any system that extracts materials from Africa and adds value elsewhere cannot claim to be truly fair to the African growers!
The response I got back knocked me for 6
<blockquote>we want to offer an alternative to the world’s biggest selling soft drink and give sugar farmers a fair price and we totally agree with addiding value at source but to bottle you need factories using water in countries that dont have enough and then transport to UK</blockquote>
This response has prompted me to ask whether this is yet another excuse to keep Africans poor? You will recall the<a href=”http://ethnicsupplies.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/does-starbucks-really-waste-that-amount-of-water/”> Starbucks story on how they waste water</a>, water is also required in the processing of coffee. Is the lack of water another excuse to keep Africans poor?
An argument that I have heard put forward by the coffee industry is even more baffling, coffee cannot be roasted and packaged in Africa for shipping to Europe as it would get spoiled along the way!
In the meantime farmers get only 3% of the profits whilst 97% is earned elsewhere and to add salt to the wound some of these products are then exported back to Africa at prices that folk in Africa can ill afford!
Does Africa truly stand a chance of lifting herself out of poverty at this rate? I sincerely do not know but all I know that so long as Africa continues to be a supplier of raw materials the journey out of poverty will be a slow and painful one.
The economic down turn has meant that folk in that used u to buy diamonds for instance could no longer afford them and the consequences of this was mines closed and workers were laid off. Isn’t it time that Africa became a consumer of its own raw materials/products or even started adding value to these materials prior to exporting them?
Have you got a view on anything raised here? If so lets hear it!