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Coffee

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had regarding support programmes for coffee farmers facing poverty following the collapse of coffee prices; and if she will make a statement. [111563]

Last November (2002), my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) attended the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) at which proposals for addressing the coffee crisis was discussed by EU Ministers.

We remain concerned about the plight of those whose livelihoods have been, and continue to be, affected by the depressed producer prices that have prevailed in the coffee market over the last few years. Commodity dependence is a complex problem and there is no simple solution.

DFID are providing support to many countries affected by a decline in coffee prices we attempt wherever possible to help poor people recover from falling incomes and help commodity dependent countries diversify.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial resources her Department has allocated to helping coffee producers gain organic certification for their coffee; and to which countries. [111582]

There can be no automatic presumption that organic certification will deliver improved livelihoods for poor coffee producers. It is important that careful consideration is given to ensuring that any additional premium generated from the production and sale of organic produce justifies any additional costs that may be incurred, including associated certification costs. In 2000, DFID financed a study to examine the opportunities and constraints for resource poor farmers in organic production and trade. DFID is supporting a coffee certification feasibility analysis in Uganda.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial resources her Department has allocated to enable small coffee producers in developing countries to diversify into alternative livelihoods, and to which countries. [111583]

UK development assistance is provided on a bilateral basis to a significant number of coffee producing countries including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. UK bilateral assistance to these six countries in 2001–02 amounted to £200 million. Additional financial resources are also provided through multilateral channels including the European Commission's external aid programme and the Common Fund for Commodities. UK support to poverty reduction strategies, and other national strategic planning processes, provides an important contribution to livelihood diversification.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial resources her Department has allocated to enable coffee farmers to form co-operatives; and if she will make a statement. [111668]

UK development assistance is provided to a significant number of coffee producing countries.The decision to establish a co-operative, or indeed any other organised grouping must be voluntary and based on a shared commitment. Activities must be bound by agreed rules including those relating to the behaviour and conduct of members and accountability. The lessons from past experience, particularly of the state-led drive to establish co-operatives in Africa in the 70s, highlight the difficulties that can arise when decisions to form a co-operative are imposed by external agents. UK development assistance lends support to a range of institutional arrangements as deemed appropriate.