Cafédirect has urged the Fairtrade Foundation to introduce a minimum payment scheme for tea farmers to protect them from "damaging low market prices". Fairtrade tea growers should get the same treatment as their coffee-growing counterparts who already receive a set minimum price on top of a fixed premium, said Cafédirect. The call follows reports last week that the cost of a cup of tea is now 75% cheaper than it was 30 years ago. "The market price of tea is set at auction and can be so low at times that even the premium is not enough to help tea growers. There is no reason why they should be treated differently to coffee growers," said Cafédirect head of marketing Sylvie Barr. "It is clear that if people can't make a living out of their crops the tea gardens will suffer." The Fairtrade Foundation said it was consulting on whether to introduce a minimum payment. A decision is expected by early next year.