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Certified coffee, rightless workers

Reporter Brasil. Monitor #5.

Mario Gomes, December 2016

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Summary :

When Repórter Brasil exposes labor problems in farms linked to voluntary sustainability verification programs, it does not intend to downplay the work carried out by NGOs, certfiers, governments and companies that use those tools to foster a socially fair coffee market. As already mentioned, several studies and statements from stakeholders point out the positive impact of such programs on daily reality at coffee farms – including in Brazil

However, the situations described in this report show that best practice seals are not necessarily synonymous with good working conditions in the plantations of the products they certify. In addition to the occurrence of violations of labor rights in those properties, several of the problems reported by Repórter Brasil were unknown even to certifiers and companies.

Tighter criteria, better monitoring practices and more transparency can help the reality in rural areas to come closer and closer to the standards and principles adopted by certifications systems and ethical sourcing programs. These advances are increasingly needed as world trade in certified coffee gains scale and takes over a large share of the global market.