More than 500,000 farmers and agricultural workers in nearly 60 countries across the globe are reaping the benefits of Fairtrade’s COVID Relief and Resilience Fund – a joint effort developed by Fairtrade International, its member organisations, and government and commercial partners, aimed at delivering direct financial help to small-scale producers hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The €15 million Fund launched last year in response to the pandemic and runs until 2022, providing a range of short-term relief and long-term recovery measures across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, including the provision of emergency measures, like personal protection equipment, COVID-19 prevention awareness campaigns and livelihood diversification.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shook the very foundations of our global economic and social systems. But for farming and agricultural communities in vulnerable regions around the world, the impact of COVID-19 was especially devastating,” noted Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o, Global CEO at Fairtrade. “By rolling out the COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund with our key partners, we have been able to ensure that farmers and agricultural workers in the Fairtrade community have the financial and health protections necessary to continue their valuable work, shield themselves from further systemic shocks caused by the pandemic, and build back fairer for a more sustainable and equitable future.”
Support for the COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund was provided the German Federal Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), the German Development Corporation (GIZ), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the British Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) via the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF), among others. Along with immediate health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Fund is also helping to address economic recovery needs within affected producer organisations.
Additional recovery efforts include helping small-scale producers initiate and carry out programs to ensure food security, secure and increase incomes by diversifying crops and markets, address human rights risks in supply chains and improve digital technologies as the foundations for a fairer recovery and to build future business resilience. “It is the poorest of the poor in the developing countries who are hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Müller. “Hunger, poverty and unemployment are rising dramatically. We are providing eight million euros to this fund to help smallholder farmers and cooperatives carry on farming even in these times of crisis and, so, provide sufficient food for hundreds of thousands of people.”
Half a million people in more than 900 producer organisations from almost 60 countries have already benefited from the Fund with producers in Colombia, Nicaragua, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, India and Indonesia receiving the lion share of relief. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on producers has been dramatic.
At the Hatton Plantations Limited multi-estate tea plantation in Sri Lanka, the pandemic meant that workers were faced with both financial difficulties and a health crisis when shipping ports closed, halting tea exports. Fairtrade funds helped provide for medical essentials and protective gear, including over 30,000 reusable masks, sanitiser bottles, and disinfectant.
“Through the Fairtrade Relief Initiative, we were provided with fully-equipped personal protective gear. All the five divisions in the estate have also received face masks, hand sanitisers for the entire work force,” explained R. Murali, a tea worker. “Our workers can now work safely in a protected environment,” they added.
Meanwhile, in southern Morocco, the Coopérative Imgoun’s operations were similarly impacted by the pandemic’s economic fall-out. With the Fairtrade COVID-19 Fund, the cooperative was able to construct water wells and reservoirs using sustainable solar piping, to expand the amount of land that can be irrigated and allowing them to increase and diversify production. In addition, the Fund enabled Coopérative Imgoun to launch a new website and facilitate sales operations by ensuring their products can be promoted and seamlessly accessible to potential customers.
“We applaud the Fairtrade producers for their resilience in this difficult time,” Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o added. “And we are thrilled that they are investing their part of the Fairtrade COVID-19 Fund to build back fairer for a greener and more equitable future.”
For interviews with Fairtrade ANZ CEO, Molly Harriss Olson, please contact Virginia Jones, Ph: 0439 430 033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.