We will all be aware of how difficult life is for vulnerable producers in poorer countries at this time. What we can do for at least some of them is to continue to buy Fairtrade products. Many of you will know about Traidcraft, and I would encourage you to buy from them. Traidcraft has Fairtrade pasta, a variety of nuts and dried fruits as well as very many choices of coffee, tea and chocolate.
Farmers and workers have been receiving advice and support through their local Fairtrade Producer Network. These Networks operate in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and each body is working hard to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect farmers and workers in their region.
One of Fairtrade’s responses to the pandemic has been to facilitate flexible use of the Fairtrade Premium income, to allow farmer co-operatives to buy protective equipment, or take all the premium as a cash payment to address their immediate daily needs.
There have been initiatives by Fairtrade producers in Africa and South America. The current restriction of movement in Uganda has left some community members unable to meet their daily nutritional needs in a region where many already live hand to mouth. In recent weeks, the Fairtrade certified Bukonzo Organic Farmers Cooperative Union Limited has stepped in to support initial government aid for the most vulnerable including the elderly, unwell and informal workers who rely on their day-today earnings.
In Brazil the Fairtrade certified coffee cooperative CAFESUL has used their Fairtrade Premium to provide cleaning supplies, masks, money and coffee to a local elderly home. In addition to this donation, the co-operative has also distributed kits among their members containing cleaning products, protective masks made by CAFESUL women’s group, and a manual prepared by the Secretary of Agriculture with recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus.
In Ghana, Asunafo North Farmers Union, which has 8,108 members spread across 67 communities, has embarked on a series of efforts to protect their communities. They have used their Fairtrade Premium to donate cash and sanitary items to the local municipal offices to be distributed to local communities around Asunafo as well as supplying 600 bottles of locally produced liquid soap for hand washing to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Similar initiatives have happened on the Ivory Coast and one co-operative has used its Fairtrade Premium to create educational posters for distribution to their members as well as demonstrations on good hand washing.
In Colombia 16 Fairtrade certified banana co-operatives joined forces and contributed 55,000 dollars from Fairtrade Premium funds to install a COVID-19 diagnostic centre in the Uraba region, where around 700,000 people live in 11 municipalities and where the main economic activity is banana production.
Secretary, Keswick Fair Trade Campaign