Fair Trade Coffee in Peru: An Economist's Notebook

Travelogue of a social scientist studying Fair Trade on a Fulbright in Peru. Personal anecdotes and interviews with coffee growers, importers, and exporters, as well as Andean cultural leaders, Limeña intellectuals, business people, professors, writers, and anyone else I meet on the journey. Fair Trade as both an alternative to the dominant model of globalization and as a way of life that is practiced by an increasing number of people who testify to its great benefits.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Welcome readers!

Welcome to my virtual logbook and journal for my upcoming yearlong research trip to Peru! I'd like to use this post to introduce myself to those of you who don't know me, and give a quick introduction to my project.

I'm a Ph.D student in Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At this point, it would be best for you to do away with any stereotypes you may have acquired about economists or economics students. I can not guarantee that I will break them all, but I will almost certainly break some of them. Some of the other hats I have worn in my life have been literature student, online music reviewer, and saxophonist. I have long been interested in the Latin American region, and have traveled in Central America and the Caribbean. This is my first trip to Peru, and to South America generally. I am excited.

The focus of my trip is to gather information - both quantitative and qualitative - about the Fair Trade system of third-party certification for agricultural commodities and handmade crafts. I will be focusing on coffee, since it is currently the most prevalent Fair Trade commodity and a good baseline case for at least the agricultural portion of the system. I have also been drinking coffee for over twelve years, and grew up a mile away from the original Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, California. This places the subject of coffee fairly close to my heart.

Specifically, I aim to understand the impact of Fair Trade on the relationships between Peruvian coffee export co-operatives and international traders. The co-ops are made up of large numbers of farmers that we would classify as poor. The international traders tend to be, though are by no means always, large corporations with a great deal of power. Fair Trade aims to even out this relationship. I want to see how successful it is in doing so and whether it can do a better job.

Stay tuned.

5 Comments:

Anonymous James said...

Noah,

This is a very good undertaking; go for it young man.

Your endeavor might result in interesting and useful findings respecting to coffee fair trade.

Thanks,
James, Garang.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Noah H. Enelow said...

Thanks James - I look forward to your future comments, questions and observations - Noah

8:18 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Noah;

Greetings from the Rosemans in Tennessee. Glad you made it safely. We hope your trip is productive, and we'll be following you on your adventures!

Warm Regards,
Barry Roseman

5:38 PM  
Blogger Noah H. Enelow said...

thanks barry! ... stay in touch! Noah

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Zazil Oropeza said...

Hola Geek!!

Greetings from Mexico City!!
I must say i enjoy reading you, it makes me feel so happy to know that there´s more and more people somewhere trying to make a difference like you.
Please, never stop writing, dreaming and researching ways to make this world a better place for all of us.
I hope to read more about your work soon.
Good luck.
Zazil
PS "you just never know!" ; )

2:23 PM  

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