Fairtrade International marked World Fair Trade Day last month by announcing two funding mechanisms for producer organizations—many of which are cooperatives—affected by COVID-19.
A Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund and a Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund received an initial investment of €3.5 million (USD $3.9 million), which will be used to meet immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, and support their long-term economic recovery.
Darío Soto Abril, CEO of Fairtrade International, said: “Fairtrade works every day to change trade so that farmers and workers can earn decent livelihoods. In times of crisis, we must do even more to ensure the health, safety, and future of those who work so hard to supply us with the products we love.
“We realize these funds aren’t enough to meet all the needs of every producer affected by the pandemic, which is why we’re committed to continuing to look for additional funding sources within the system, as well as with partners.”
Through the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund, an initial €2.1 million (USD$2.4 million) will be allocated to Fairtrade-certified producer organizations, including co-ops, for urgently needed investment in safety and livelihoods, purchase of masks and basic protective and medical equipment, temporary payment of wages for suspended workers, local food security initiatives, raising awareness of safety precautions, building emergency medical facilities, and business continuity costs. The fund has been established through contributions by national Fairtrade organizations.
“Producer organizations quickly mobilized themselves to support their members and communities, like coffee producers in Colombia distributing food and hygiene packages to the elderly in their community, Brazilians helping to sanitize their cities, or Belizeans delivering masks,” said Xiomara J. Parades, executive director of CLAC, the Fairtrade Producer Network in Latin America and the Caribbean. “This has been the case in most of the producer organizations around the world.
“Having this additional financial support will make a significant difference in the level of relief that can be provided to some of the communities that are in the most need of assistance.”
While the Relief Fund targets immediate needs, the Producer Resilience Fund addresses the pandemic’s effect on the long-term needs of producers post-pandemic. This fund—currently at €1 million (USD$1.1 million)—will support longer-term economic interventions, such as business restoration, technology-based capacity building, addressing human rights risks in value chains through programmatic interventions, support for strengthening finances to tackle future risks and advocacy.
Contributions are being sought from from retailers, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies.
“In addition asking our national organizations to contribute funds, we are looking for partners to help us grow this forward-looking fund to ensure that, as farmers and workers start to recover from the effects of COVID-19, they are able to secure their livelihoods, while building resilience in supply chains,” Soto-Abril said.
The funds will allocate money proportionally to the three regional Fairtrade Producer Networks, who will administer and manage the distribution, monitoring and impact of the funds to certified producer organizations at the frontline of the pandemic.
“The crisis won’t end when COVID-19 stops spreading,” said Nyagoy Nyong’o, executive director of Fairtrade Africa, the producer network covering Africa and the Middle East. “We’re already seeing a global economic crisis looming.
“Farmers and workers are resilient and creative. This additional fund will enable them to identify opportunities or alternative business models, as well as continuing to invest in the future of their communities.”