Large-scale cultivation was pioneered by the Dutch in their colonies in the 17th century. The British and French followed, exploiting the tropical climate and peoples of the colonies to start one of the world’s biggest trades. In recent years, the ecology and welfare of growing areas has become much more of a concern. Better trading deals are being negotiated through the Fairtrade movement, and organically grown coffee is set to increase its market share radically. Coffee Plant ltd stocks a wide range of Fairtrade and organic coffees (in practice they are often concurrent). When market value of coffee is low, it is particularly important for those who care to select Fairtrade coffees.
Coffee has always been subject to crop failures, particularly as it is dominated by Brasil where commercial monoculture operates in areas liable to frost and drought. In an attempt to prevent the ensuing violent price fluctuations, as well as to guarantee an income to third world producers, the idea of establishing coffee export quotas on a worldwide basis was adopted in 1962, when an International Coffee Agreement was negotiated by the United Nations. The agreement was renegotiated in 1968, 1976, and 1983. The advent of neo-liberal policies in Washington and Brasil’s insistence that they should maintain a high quota, led to a breakdown, however, and participating nations failed to sign a new pact in 1989.