17 Nov 2020

The Impact of Hurricane Eta and Iota on Fairtrade Producers and Workers

Update: 26 November

Hurricane Iota entered the coast of Nicaragua as category 5, it is the strongest hurricane to ever hit Nicaragua since there are records and it occurred only two weeks apart from hurricane Eta.

Hurricanes have left communities and cities flooded and isolated. There is severe damage to infrastructure, bridges, and large losses in the agricultural sector due to large areas of crops being flooded. A UN agency estimates 4.6 million people are affected by the devastation left by both Iota hurricanes in Central America.

Millionaire losses are estimated in the agricultural sector since thousands of hectares of crops of basic grains, fruits, vegetables, and vegetables, between Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala were flooded by the intense rains of the last weeks.

Fairtrade organizations affected:

Nicaragua:

CECOCAFEN reported damages to associates’ homes and plantations. PRODECOOP reports that 2,000 vulnerable families have been affected and are seeking cooperation to finance food supplies for those families for at least a month. Besides, they are asking for help to re-open roads to get the crops. Damage was also reported at SOPPEXCA. The producers of the Central de Mujeres de las Diosas were evacuated to shelters. UNCRISPROCA organization, which is located on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, could have been badly affected.

Honduras:

Organizations have been affected by landslides on farms and damage to infrastructure and roads. Some communities of producers that are members of PROEXO cannot be accessed due to the destruction of bridges and access roads, landslides on farms, overflowing rivers, and losses in production units.

COAGRICSAL organization reports damage to infrastructure. APROCAGUAL, a cocoa producer, suffered losses after the passage of Eta, which worsened with the passage of Iota. At least three houses were destroyed, and the local school was severely damaged. The plantations were flooded, and the producers lost a good part of the cocoa harvest. Damage to home gardens is also recorded. Plantations and homes were flooded again with Iota.

Guatemala:

APODIP, ASOBAGRI, CIPAC, FEDECOCAGUA (in Huehuetenango and Alta Verapaz) were affected by both hurricanes. ASOBAGRI reports several communities that cannot be reached due to damages to bridges and roads.

El Salvador:

In Fairtrade certified cooperatives, damage to coffee is recorded due to excess rain caused by the fall of the ripe bean. Also, in sugarcane cultivation, there is a high percentage of cane fall.

The intermittent rains caused by the ETA storm have put at risk between 15% and 20% of the projected coffee production for the 2019-2020 harvest, according to the Coffee Association of El Salvador (Acafesal). These data could increase due to the effects of Hurricane Iota.

Mexico:

Southern Mexico registered heavy rains due to Hurricane Iota and floods were recorded in the area. Organizations in San Cristobal de las Casas, in the Los Altos and Selva regions had already been affected by the passage of Hurricane Eta. The organization Mieles del Sur recorded the loss of 100 hives due to landslides produced after the rains.

For the full report please go here

prior update on eta:

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.