Ethiopian Coffee Farmers Fight Starbucks for more bucks

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Oxfam Urges Company to Review Strategy and Sign Licensing Agreement

Oxfam International (Boston)
PRESS RELEASE
October 26, 2006
Posted to the web October 26, 2006

Global coffee giant Starbucks has opposed a plan by Ethiopia to gain more control over its coffee trade and a larger share of the earnings for millions of coffee farmers living in poverty, international agency Oxfam revealed today.

Last year the Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable Ethiopia to capture more value from the trade, by controlling their use in the market and thereby enabling farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price. Ethiopia’s coffee industry and farmers could earn an estimated $88 million (USD) extra per year.

$6 billion company Starbucks prompted protests against the applications to be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO has denied Ethiopia’s applications for Sidamo and Harar, creating serious obstacles for its project.

Seth Petchers, of Oxfam International said: “Starbucks’ behavior is indefensible. The company must change tactics and set an example for others by supporting Ethiopia’s plan to help millions of struggling farmers earn a greater share of the profits.”

“Intellectual property ownership now makes up a huge proportion of the total value of world trade but rich countries and businesses capture most of this. Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and one of the poorest countries in the world, is trying to assert its rights and capture more value from its product. It should be helped, not hindered,” said Ron Layton, chief executive of Light Years IP, a Washington DC-based intellectual property rights organization that is helping to advise the Ethiopian government.

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Read more: http://allafrica.com/stories/200610260790.html


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18 thoughts on “Ethiopian Coffee Farmers Fight Starbucks for more bucks”

  1. It’s interesting to see that such a successful company has such dirt behind it. It’s awful to hear that the poverty level remains the same in Ethiopia. How would the company be affected if everyone banned Starbucks products?

  2. Starbucks is a multi-billion dollar company which has gained its status in large part from impoverished countries. It owes Ethiopia from exploiting them for years. What Starbucks is doing is insensitive and another example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

  3. I am from Ethiopia and think that starbucks they want to be number one nationwide without ethiopia coffee. There is now way starbucks will be good without etiopian coffee so if Ethiopia quits then starbucks will change their minds.But remeber , anyone reads my comment please don’t say that it is apoor contry . Ethiopia is natrually a beautiful country I am 10 years old Ethiopian American I visited Ethiopia I did not believe we have this kind of beautiful country. because always the news writes that it is a poor place.

  4. Its shameful to see what Starbucks is doing to these naturally intelligent farmers. Considering the quality of the coffee, Starbucks should give the farmers credit for it and support them financially, which will encourage them to keep up the quality of the coffee. Ethiopia is a beautiful country; full of natural resource and one of the most exotic countries in the world. However, the lack of education seem to be the main reason why the country is not developed yet. New these days, the people are becoming more productive showing the catch-up effect. The country has became the fastest growing country in the world. I believe if the Western nations are really up to help developing nations as they are claiming, then spurring Starbucks to increase the farmers wage could make a huge impact within the country.

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