The GPP are introducing a monthly film review on our blog to look at some of the stories that tell us more about issues linked to global poverty. We hope you’ll get involved and leave your own comments and opinions on the films we look at, as well as suggesting any that you think are worthy of a review. To all of you who have already given recommendations, thank you - these are on the viewing list!
Black Gold is a documentary-style film produced and directed by Marc and Nick Francis about the exploitation of farmers in developing countries. It highlights the injustice suffered by Ethiopians farming coffee beans for the Western world’s love of coffee. This documentary challenges both the price farmers receive for their beans as well as the distribution channels that are involved in the process. It also gives an understanding of how cooperatives can make a difference to the lives of the growers and the importance of consumers buying fairtrade products.
It is widely reported that large corporations often make huge profit margins on consumer goods whilst the producers themselves struggle to make a living, yet I was still stunned by some of the statistics mentioned. For instance, the amount of money an Ethiopian farmer can expect to receive for a kilo of coffee beans is around $0.23, the equivalent of buying just two cups of coffee in that region. This is despite the kilo finally ending up worth $230 when the coffee is sold on to Western consumers!
What I like about this film is that being a documentary, it’s likely to be very accurate in content. It offers many statistics to put the issues into context and shows the positive steps that are being taken to help improve the situation for these vulnerable people farming to make an honest living. The hope is that through the cooperatives they will earn a fairer price and be able to send more of their children to school and build their communities.
So what have I taken away from this? Coffee may be gold to some, but to the farmers of Ethiopia growing it, it’s more like fools gold. As well as remembering to buy fairtrade products, I also feel inspired to find out if the coffee shop chains I visit source fairtrade coffee and if not, what do I plan to do about it...