December 1, 2006
Welcoming Tuesday's meeting in
"Doing so will ensure that coffee farmers get a fairer share of the value of their crop," said Abera Tola, Oxfam America regional director, adding that after a year of trying to engage Starbucks on trademarks, the company finally sat down to discuss the issue directly with Ethiopia.
Oxfam emphasises that Starbucks' recognition of
Ethiopian farmers produce some of the finest and most sought-after coffees in the World, including coffees that have been sold under Starbucks' Black Apron Exclusives line for up to $26 a pound.
"Small-scale coffee farmers are economically vulnerable, in part because large foreign buyers, such as Starbucks, are dictating trading conditions with their extraordinary market power," said Tola.
"If poor countries are able to obtain trademarks for unique, locally grown products like coffee, they can capture more of the value of their products for the benefit of the people who produce them. This initiative is a significant and innovative approach to alleviating poverty," he added.
For over a year,
Despite its much-publicised commitment to farming communities, Starbucks has continually rejected
No agreement was reached at Tuesday's meeting.
"This is a rights issue and we deserve to have our rights recognised. We strongly believe that trade marking is the way to go," said Meles.
"The right to own our coffee names is the only way that we can preserve our rich coffee heritage.
Legal and intellectual property experts have supported
Trademark rights for
"Our coffees are some of the best in the World and although they often sell for two and three times the cost of other coffees, we are getting a tiny fraction of this price," complained Tadesse Meskela, manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union.
"Our objective here is to return more money to the coffee grower's pocket," Meskela said.
Last month Oxfam launched an international public campaign to encourage Starbucks to engage with
Over 85 000 people around the world, according to Tola, have joined Oxfam in calling on Starbucks to do right to
Tola said Oxfam and its supporters would continue to work with the Ethiopian government, coffee growers, and exporters to encourage Starbucks to come to a mutually beneficial solution that could make a world of difference for millions of poor people.
Meanwhile, Starbucks CEO on Wednesday made a field visit to coffee farms in Awassa area of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) before returning to the