17 Nov 2020

The Impact of Hurricane Eta on Fairtrade Producers and Workers

On Tuesday, November 3, hurricane Eta lashed against the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. The category four hurricane, with winds of up to 240 km/h, then advanced to Honduras and Guatemala, returning to the Caribbean Sea as a tropical storm on Saturday November 7. It then made its way to Cuba and Florida in the United States.

It left more than a hundred deaths, even more people missing, landslides and crops losses. It also meant the destruction of roads, bridges, power lines and houses in rural areas.

All countries in the region were affected. Yet, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua were hit the hardest. The situation is very critical.

Unfortunately, this has also meant damage to Fairtrade certified organizations. They have either lost crops or suffered important damages to infrastructure. Furthermore, some organizations have been left completely isolated, with no communication possible.

Producers Impacted

The total impact on the region is still to be assessed. In addition, the new hurricane Iota, also had devastating effects last night. Here is what we have heard from several producers across the region when it comes to Eta:

APEOCAGUAL, a cocoa producer in Honduras, had at least three houses destroyed and their local school suffered several damages. In addition, their crops flooded, resulting in producers losing their cocoa. Family food gardens were also damaged.

Meanwhile, in Guatemala, Faitrade organizations APODIP, ASOBAGRI, CIPAC and FEDECOCAGUA in Huehuetenango and Alta Verapaz have been affected. The same applies to the cooperatives in the north side of the country, CIASFA and Cuna Chorti.

In Nicaragua, the UNCRISPROCA organization has been very affected. Other Fairtrade certified organizations in this country have reported losses of their beans and corn crops of up to 80%.

In El Salvador, many coffee crops of Fairtrade certified cooperatives suffered due to the excess rain. At the cooperative ATAISI, their temporary warehouse used by a youth group working on food gardens was damaged.

It should be noted that the continuous rain has put between 15 and 20% of the coffee production for the 2019 – 2020 harvest (around 148.000 quintals) at risk according to El Salvador´s Coffee Association (ACAFESAL). Sugarcane crops have also been affected.

In Costa Rica, COOPEAGRI, COOPETARRAZU and ALIANZA had roads, highways, and bridges around their community damaged. In addition, other organizations members of COOCAFÉ, such as COOPESABALITO, COOPELDOS, and COOPEPILANGOSTA have reported damages and coffee grain losses.

In Southern Mexico, organizations located in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Los Altos and Selva, reported the most damages in the region. In the municipality of Ocosingo, the communities of Tomas Munzer, El Zapotal and El Calvario registered flooding. Three other communities have been left isolated in the region of Cañada del Río Perlas. The cooperative Mieles del Sur has reported that three people died at El Bosque municipality and El Guayabal community. They lost a hundreed beehives because producers could not feed the bees due to heavy rains. Difficulties to access the area and getting the necessary aid continue.

At Fairtrade International we are incredibly saddened by this news. Covid-19 already presented an extraordinary challenge for our producers and workers around the world. Now, with the impact of both hurricanes, their struggle only increases.