How is the Fairtrade COVID 19 Relief and Resilience Fund supporting farmers and workers in Asia and the Pacific to build back stronger, resilient, and fairer farming communities?
The ‘’World Fair Trade Day 2021’’ marks one year to the announcement of the launch of the “Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund” and the establishment of a “Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund” by Fairtrade International in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a span of one year the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund has supported 21966 farmers and workers from 273 Fairtrade producer groups to build back resilient and fairer farming communities through several social and economic sustainability initiatives.
During a pandemic, access to basic human needs (health, food, and safe shelter) becomes even more critical. When the sudden outbreak of the health crisis in 2020, gradually led to a global food crisis raising an alarm for global and regional food shortages, the majority of our producer organizations were able to provide immediate food and medical relief to their farmers and workers with the support from the Fairtrade Relief and Fairtrade Premium Fund.
Koperasi Simpan Pinjam Karya Manunggal Sejahtera, is a coconut sugar Fairtrade small producers’ organization located in Indonesia, comprising of 1039 members of coconut sugar smallholder farmers. The Cooperative was able to effectively mitigate the food crisis by first prioritizing to distribute the food relief to 360 cooperative and community members who were in immediate need. For the purpose of building local food resilience for its members, the Cooperative distributed a large variety of vegetable and mangosteen seedlings and polybags to 500 farmers. By planting their own vegetables, the farmers can strengthen their local food supply resilience during the pandemic, and also generate an additional source of income.
‘’The establishing of our own local food supply chain has reduced our needs to go to the market to procure groceries. This has lessened our risks of getting exposed to the virus in crowded places. ‘’– Atikah Setiawan with her husband Ari Setiawan ; Koperasi Simpan Pinjam Karya Manunggal Sejahtera.
Similarly, NamOm Community Enterprise Network, a rice producer organisation in Thailand has also set up a Food Security Program to enable members to grow their own food. 530 families are provided with fairy mushroom cubes, papaya trees, vegetable plants, lime trees along with the distribution of medical equipment and essentials such as thermometers, disinfectants, and protective kits. The Project has indirectly benefitted 5000 people and 1600 migrant workers.
‘’The droughts and floods from 2018 to 2020 resulting from the climate change, coupled with the COVID 19 crisis have made it extremely difficult for the members of the organic rice growers to sustain their livelihoods. Therefore, the Executive Committee of the organization has established the community welfare program with the Relief fund to heal members affected by the pandemic.’’– Patin Jantasing; NamOm Community Enterprise Network —
Another cooperative in Indonesia, KBQ Baburrayyan has distributed face masks, disinfectants, and packaged food relief to 2230 people.
‘’We advise our farmer members to adapt with the requirements of the new normal, to implement all the health and safety protocols that have been instructed by the government in order to prevent and minimize the infection of the COVID 19 virus’’- Ridwan Husin
Due to COVID 19, the Fairtrade sales have declined, therefore the Relief fund supported over 200 Fairtrade Producer groups to retain their Fairtrade business amidst the pandemic through the provision of certification subsidy.
In addition to securing health and food safety, the fund has helped many Fairtrade groups to improve their production capacity, to diversify their product and explore means of earning additional sources of income.
Ban Khun Chang Kean, a Lychee Producer organization in Thailand has used the Relief fund to set up a revolving credit fund support for members with zero interest. The members who are interested in experimenting with growing new crops can avail credit from the fund at no interest.
”We are trying to develop new products to improve our income. We have decided to invest the money in ginger planting. Since the harvesting of lychee is only once a year, the members can now diversify into more products and earn a stable income’’ – Surasit, a farmer member at Ban Khun Chang Kean
‘’In the initial stage of the pandemic, we faced a financial setback as the coconuts buying price per kilo decreased by 50%. The relief fund has greatly assisted us in improving our farm operations such as weeding, desilting of canals, etc and the budget allocated for buying new farm tools has now been used to procure food and other essentials.’’ Nelben R. Moreno; DavNor Fair Trade Coco Farmers Association
The fight against the pandemic would not have been possible without the perseverance, commitments, and vigilant management of our Producer Organisations and the support of Fairtrade International. We also thank all our partners for sharing a common vision to build back stronger, sustainable, resilient, and fairer Fairtrade communities for our farmers and workers. This has greatly contributed to the overall success of all the Relief and Recovery Projects in our regions.
‘’During the pandemic when citizens around the globe work from home, WE, the coffee farmers from Ketiara Cooperative kept working on our farms so that you still get to enjoy the best cup of coffee while at home. We will continue to focus on building a stronger production capacity at the farm and at the SPO level. Happy World Fair Trade Day’’ Ibu Rahmah; Ketiara Cooperative
Let us continue to