Fairtrade delivers multi-million coronavirus relief funding to cocoa and farming communities

Fairtrade has delivered a €15 million Covid-19 relief fund reaching over 500,000 farmers and agricultural workers in nearly 60 countries, including key Ghana and Ivory Coast cocoa communities, writes Neill Barston.

The initiative is a joint effort developed by Fairtrade International, its member organisations, and government and commercial partners, aimed at delivering direct financial help to small-scale producers hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The €15 million Fund launched last year in response to the pandemic and runs until 2022, providing a range of short-term relief and long-term recovery measures across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, including the provision of emergency measures, like personal protection equipment, COVID-19 prevention awareness campaigns and livelihood diversification.

Assistance for the scheme in Ghana included a total of €6000 for the cocoa producing Asunafo North Cooperative group, which

It received an amount of EUR 6,000, to obtain provisions including 155 bags of sultana gold (4.5 kilos), 1 litre of cooking oil, 100grm tins of tomatoes. These consumables were distributed to about 770 vulnerable across the 67 societies.

The rest of the amount was used to undertake public education on radio station with health personnel from Ghana Health Service and administrative spending. As a result of these interventions, communities are now resilient to future risk especially towards health-related risk.

According to the union manager: “They are now used to regular washing of hands with soap and water, social distancing proposals and coughing into one’s elbow. The union is also in a process of educating the farmers on the need to have contingency fund and well planned and elaborate response strategy for future risk.”

Another cocoa organisation in Ghana, Fantekwa, also gained €6000, using the majority of its allocation to procure and distribute farm inputs including cutlasses, chemical, and wellington boots to cocoa farmers. The rest of the money, EUR 638.30 was used for PPE protection equipment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic shook the very foundations of our global economic and social systems. But for farming and agricultural communities in vulnerable regions around the world, the impact of COVID-19 was especially devastating,” noted Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o, Global CEO at Fairtrade.

“By rolling out the COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund with our key partners, we have been able to ensure that farmers and agricultural workers in the Fairtrade community have the financial and health protections necessary to continue their valuable work, shield themselves from further systemic shocks caused by the pandemic, and build back fairer for a more sustainable and equitable future.”

Support for the COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Fund was provided the German Federal Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), the German Development Corporation (GIZ), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the British Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) via the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF), among others.

Along with immediate health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Fund is also helping to address economic recovery needs within affected producer organisations.

Additional recovery efforts include helping small-scale producers initiate and carry out programs to ensure food security, secure and increase incomes by diversifying crops and markets, address human rights risks in supply chains and improve digital technologies as the foundations for a fairer recovery and to build future business resilience.

“It is the poorest of the poor in the developing countries who are hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Müller. “Hunger, poverty and unemployment are rising dramatically. We are providing eight million euros to this fund to help smallholder farmers and cooperatives carry on farming even in these times of crisis and, so, provide sufficient food for hundreds of thousands of people.”

Half a million people in more than 900 producer organisations from almost 60 countries have already benefited from the Fund with producers in Colombia, Nicaragua, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, India and Indonesia receiving the lion share of relief.


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