5 May 2021

From food distribution to solar panels: rethinking the day-to-day to navigate an ongoing crisis

Fairtrade farmers and workers have been an example (and inspiration) of how to adjust in order to navigate the pandemic. Almost year ago we launched two funds to better support them in their journey.

Our Fairtrade relief fund was launched for immediate assistance: to keep workers safe and operations running. On the other hand, the Fairtrade resilience fund was created for long term measures (such as adjusting business models or diversifying) to achieve a more solid economic recovery.

One year in, here is an overview of what has happened so far, together with some recent success stories from the field. Stay tuned as this is an ever-evolving story

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Activities Covid Funds
There are several types of activities taking place across the world to better support producers

In addition, they launched a new website to enable sales operations, a way to ensure their products are promoted and easily accessible in a seamless way.

The sunny side of diversification

To date, 337 producer organisations in Africa are running a wide variety of projects to benefit their cooperatives and communities. From digitalisation of sales, to ensuring working conditions according to new safety standards.

One inspiring example is the Coopérative Imgoun, in the southern part of Morocco. Their operations have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, and finding new ways of generating income (while keeping their workers safe) is crucial.

Given that they are located in a highly dry area with a lack of rain water the organization decided to construct water wells and reservoirs using solar piping to expand the amount of land that can be irrigated. Therefore, enabling them to increase and diversify their production. For instance, they are now also looking at opening olive oil production, to be later Fairtrade certified.

In addition, they launched a new website to enable sales operations, a way to ensure their products are promoted and easily accessible in a seamless way.

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Over 70 solar panels were installed in the cooperative

‘All members are happy and very satisfied with the results; In fact the whole village can benefit from the projects, in particular the well digging’ says Abdellah Mars, cooperative member.

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Training sessions were run on a variety topics, to benefit cooperative members and improve ways of working.

Prioritizing members in a vulnerable position due to Covid-19 and hurricanes

Across Latin America, 294 producer organizations have been rolling out activities thanks to the funds. It is also worth noting that on top of Covid-19, this region struggled last year with two hurricanes, Eta and Iota, which had devastating effects.

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Covering increased production costs and implementing biosafety protocols have been a constant across the region.

The cooperative used the fund to install appropriate bio-safety support for workers on the field, benefiting 127 producers.

Covering increased production costs and implementing biosafety protocols have been a constant across the region (for example, by organizing rapid Covid-19 testing), however, lately there has been an emphasis on the purchase of food and basics for families.

One example would be Productores de Café de Motozintla S. de S.S (PROCAFEM), a coffee producer in Mexico. Due to the pandemic, producers of a more advanced age had not been able to work as usual, and therefore saw a decrease in their household income. This lead to many of them facing difficulties to get food and supplies for their families. The cooperative therefore prioritized them and utilized the funds to to purchase basic food supplies for 90 of their associates. They focused on the elderly, people with disabilities, and producers who had losses due to the hurricanes last year.

The organization prepared the packages and arranged the deliveries to three different sites, San Jeronimo, Motozintla, and at the PROCAFEM´s office. All of them taking place on open air spaces with preventive measures.

Another example from the region is Corporación San Miguel de Brasil, in Ecuador. They used the fund in order to install appropiate biosafety support for workers on the field, benefiting 127 producers.

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Corporación San Miguel de Brasil, in Ecuador used the fund to install appropiate biosafety support for workers.

“The COVID-19 emergency initiative has provided biosafety materials for more than 230 organizations, which along with the Relief and Economic Recovery Funds have allowed them to continue with the production of food, keeping the Fairtrade system´s value chain running’. These donations and funds have been very relevant for Fairtrade certified organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean."

Miguel Angel Munguia, CLAC's chair of the board and member of Fairtrade's board.

The cooperative used the funds to increase coffee quality and production. To further export and sell locally.

Not just a matter of quantity, but also of quality

Last but not least, in Asia Pacific 273 organisations have made use of the funds across 21 countries

One example is the coffee cooperative, Kopepi Ketiara, from Indonesia. The pandemic had a strong impact on their entire coffee supply chain. Which meant that at the farm level, the price of cherry harvests had fallen up to 30%, having a serious impact on the household income of coffee farmers.

Therefore, they decided to utilize the funds to increase coffee production, and its quality, in order to further export and sell locally. To do so they distributed new coffee pulpers, tarpaulin rolls, roasters and grinders to their members

‘’The quality of tarpaulins provided by the project is best I had ever seen for the last 25 years of my experience in the coffee production in Gayo’’- Rahmah, Chairwoman, Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative.

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Kopepi Ketiara in Indonesia priotised how to be more effective in terms of coffee production

Up next, the region will see the setting up of composting facilities and vegetable nurseries to support Small Producer Organisations in Sri Lanka, benefiting of 8000 people, and even the launch of an e-Commerce website for sales of Fairtrade products in Vietnam.

More to come

These are just some examples, and many more activities are being rolled out across all regions to support farmers and workers. Stay-tuned for more updates and, in the meantime, continue to choose Fairtrade and support farmers and workers around the world to rebuild their livelihoods and make a fairer world.

Our partners:

Activities highlighted in this article and beyond include:

  • German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ);
  • Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO);
  • British Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO); via the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF) set up by the FCDO in August
  • Impact investor Incofin IM;
  • and Fairtrade member organizations’ own funds