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On World Fairtrade Day 2020, Fairtrade International announced the launch of the “Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund” and the establishment of a “Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund” to help the producers meet the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. In one year, the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund has supported 21,966 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.  The sudden outbreak of the health crisis in 2020 gradually led to a global food crisis raising the alarm on global and regional food shortages. In response, a majority of our producer organizations were able to provide immediate food and medical relief to their farmers and workers with support from the Fairtrade Relief and Fairtrade Premium Fund. 

 

Koperasi Simpan Pinjam Karya Manunggal Sejahtera, a coconut sugar Fairtrade small producers’ organization located in Indonesia, comprises of 1,039 coconut sugar smallholder farmers. The cooperative effectively mitigated the food crisis by first prioritizing the distribution of food relief to 360 cooperative and community members who were in immediate need. To build 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 could strengthen their local food supply resilience during the pandemic and generate an additional source of income. “Establishing of our own local food supply chain has reduced our need to go to the market to procure groceries. This has lessened our risks of getting exposed to the virus in crowded places”, said Atikah Setiawan from Koperasi Simpan Pinjam Karya Manunggal Sejahtera.          

 

Similarly, NamOm Community Enterprise Network, a rice producer organisation in Thailand set up a food security program to enable members to grow their own food. 530 families were provided with fairy mushroom cubes, papaya trees, vegetable plants, lime trees along with medical equipment and essentials such as thermometers, disinfectants, and protective kits. The project indirectly benefitted 5,000 people and 1,600 migrant workers. The droughts and floods from 2018 to 2020 coupled with the COVID-19 crisis made it extremely difficult for organic rice growers to sustain their livelihoods. The community welfare program and the relief fund established by the cooperative helped members affected by the pandemic to heal. KBQ Baburrayyan, an Indonesian cooperative, distributed face masks, disinfectants, and packaged food relief to 2,230 people. 

 

 

 

Due to COVID-19, Fairtrade sales had declined. The relief fund supported over 200 Fairtrade producer organisations to retain their Fairtrade business amidst the pandemic through the provision of certification subsidy. In addition to securing health and food safety, the fund helped many Fairtrade organisations to improve their production capacity, diversify their products, and explore means of earning additional income. 

Ban Khun Chang Kean, a Lychee producer organization in Thailand used the relief fund to set up a revolving credit fund for their members. The members interested in experimenting with new crops could 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 their products and earn a stable income’’, said Surasit, a farmer member at Ban Khun Chang Kean. 

 

 

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.