The COVID 19 global pandemic has been affecting the businesses of Fairtrade coffee cooperatives since April 2020. The farmgate coffee price has reached the lowest in the last decade, reducing by 40 percent lesser than the price at the same time last year. On the other hand, the sales contracts even with the existing buyers are known to have delayed, postponed, and OR rescheduled due to the lockdown of shipping facilities in Indonesia and the marketing countries.
As per Arinagata Coffee Cooperative, FLO ID: 18296, due to the pandemic the cooperative face more economic and social implications rather than health impacts. Since May 2020 their ability to purchase coffee beans from their farmer members has been very limited, leaving them with no choice other than to allow the members to sell it directly to any other local buyers/traders in the region. To mitigate the health risk due to COVID 19, the SPO has conducted awareness programs and educated their farmers on the preventive and protective measures. All the villages in the members’ area have been provided with handwashing facilities. In July 2020, the cooperative distributed a Fairtrade premium amount of 200,000 IDR per member to 2157 members in the form of cash transfer. The cash has allowed the members to support their families and have more control over their lives during the crisis.
On World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade International announced the launch of a “Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund” to meet the immediate short term needs of the farmers, workers, and their communities during the pandemic. This provided great relief to the producers who were already battling various social and economic challenges on the ground.
The Fairtrade Relief fund allowed Arinagata Cooperative to provide the necessary support for the workers at the processing unit.
‘’We are aware that the workers at our cooperative and processing unit play an important role in our Fairtrade business. Yet they are often left aside and receive lesser benefits than our members. Though they are paid for what they work for- either on volume or daily basis that is above the minimum wage, but during this time due to lack of business they have been earning lesser than the normal wage. Therefore, we decided to utilise the fund to support them.’’ Ara Siberani; Chairman.
The fund proved to be a great aid for the Cooperative in organising a COVID 19 awareness session to educate the workers on the preventive/protective measures to safeguard themselves from the spread of infection at home and the workplace. Handwashing facilities were installed at the processing and the workers were provided with hand wash liquids, hand sanitisers, and face masks. Additionally, to help them survive through the financial hardships, cash transfers of an amount of 400,0000 IDR was made for each worker. A total of 101 workers in the cooperative office and processing facilities were directly benefited from this support, reaching up to 441 other beneficiaries including their family members.
‘’In cash support was the real need for the workers facing financial hardships due to the lack of income from their regular work during the turbulent times, especially at the time of Eidul Adha (Islamic festive season) and also for investing for the new academic year and supporting their children to adapt to the new way of schooling. Our workers are grateful to Fairtrade for providing support at a time when they really need it. This has made them feel what it is like to be a part of a great supply chain and a part of the Fairtrade family’’- Ara Siberani, Chairman.