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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Fluoride in Drinking Water

U.S.A. - A multitude of research studies suggest that drinking tea can be included as part of a healthy diet and may contribute to overall health. Studies have found that tea drinkers have a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases, including heart disease and some types of cancer, the National Research Council reported.

Leading international and U.S. public health organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences, American Cancer Society and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the World Health Organization, support tea’s healthfulness. The Tea Council of the USA feels confident in assuring consumers that, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, tea poses no health risk.

The Tea Council of the USA commissioned a scientific research firm to analyze the nutrient fluoride intake from tea in the U.S. adult population. The goal of this analysis was to determine whether fluoride intake from tea falls within the Dietary Reference Intake Values for Fluoride published by the Standing Committee on Scientific Evaluation of the Dietary Reference Intakes (Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine). The analysis determined tea consumption in the U.S. by male/female adults and assessed fluoride intake from tea, using fluoride levels from the USDA Database on Fluoride Content of Foods and Beverages (USDA 204).

Although tea is a source of naturally occurring nutrient fluoride, tea intake in the U.S. is not associated with excessive consumption of this element. In fact, the analysis determined that average dietary nutrient intake of fluoride was well below the ‘tolerable upper intake levels’ for fluoride for adults. Based on the data used in the analysis, it would take approximately 10 cups or more of tea per day to exceed the degrees specified by the Dietary Reference Intakes.

InterAmerican Coffee Sponsors Radio Project

South Africa - The Freeplay Foundation has announced that InterAmerican Coffee, Inc. will sponsor the new project, Coffee Lifeline, in Rwanda. This initiative is the first link in a planned global communication chain among coffee producers, who often live in isolated areas. Utilizing self-powered Freeplay Lifeline Radios, the Coffee Lifeline project will provide these remote communities with access to timely market information, agricultural and other technical advice, and weather bulletins, thereby enabling sustainable economic progress.

“Rwandan farmers grow some of the finest coffee beans in all of Africa, indeed in all the world,” said Alan Odom, vice president of sales for InterAmerican Coffee. “We are gratified to be able to assist these important partners in accessing vital information that will advance productivity and promote economic and social sustainability for their communities.”

Lifeline radios have been distributed to farmers’ cooperatives, where they will serve as “information centers,” allowing almost 15,000 farmers access to coffee market information broadcast by the National University of Rwanda’s Department of Journalism. Using patented wind-up and solar technology, Lifeline Radios do not require electricity or batteries.

“This donation draws attention to the fact that the private sector can make an enormous difference in the growth of many interdependent industries around the world,” said Kristine Pearson, executive director of the Freeplay Foundation. Peter Kettler, the trader that conceived the Coffee Lifeline project, said, “This donation from InterAmerican is integral in developing a project model that will be implemented in a number of different coffee producing regions, linking farmers for the first time through this simple, elegant technology,” said Kettler.

Dr. Tim Schilling, the country director for the Partnership to Enhance Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), is Coffee Lifeline’s primary partner in Rwanda. “For the first time ever in the lives of Rwandan coffee farmers, they are now starting to understand the complex nature of the international coffee market, thanks to the Lifeline Radio,” said Dr. Schilling. “InterAmerican Coffee has funded a program that will enable farmers to avoid the traps of the past, where they were lured to sell their coffee at very low prices. This is like a ‘miracle,’ where farmers have been growing coffee for 100 years.”

InterAmerican Coffee imports green coffee to roasters throughout North America. The firm has supported coffee growers in Rwanda for years. The company has offices in Houston, Oakland and Seattle. In 1995, InterAmerican joined forces with the world’s largest coffee company, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, based in Germany.

The Freeplay Foundation is a registered nonprofit, and is a registered charity in South Africa and the U.K.

Tea Farm Workers Facing Starvation

Nairobi - Plantation workers in Kericho are facing starvation, a report in The East African Standard stated. The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union’s assistant general secretary, Henry Omasire, appealed to the Government to provide relief food to thousands of starving workers in tea estates in Kericho. Omasire said the situation in the tea estates was complicated by the prolonged drought that affected their earnings.

Two major companies in Kericho and Bureti districts, Unilever Tea Kenya Ltd. and James Finlay, have closed eight factories and the remaining three are operating below capacity. The affected workers include watchmen and drivers, in addition to the pluckers. Many workers are also experiencing a cut-back on their hours.

Omasire said the closing of factories, due to a drop in tea production, forced the companies to send most of the workers on early annual leave. “Most of those affected opted to remain at their places of work because they could not travel to their rural homes,” he said.

Omasire described the situation as serious, and said unless the affected workers and their families were supplied with relief food, lives were likely to be lost.

Tea & Coffee - May/June, 2006
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