Fairtrade International secures £15m Covid-19 relief funding for producers

The funding will be allocated to Fairtrade-certified producer organisations, including co-ops

As Covid-19 continues to have severe effects on farmers and their co-ops, Fairtrade International says it has secured more than €15m for its Producer Relief and Resilience Funds.

The funding comes from government agencies and commercial organisations including the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in co-operation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ); the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); the British Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO); and impact investor Incofin IM.

The two-year funding will go towards a range of short-term relief and long-term recovery measures across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes helping small-scale producers initiate and carry out programmes to prevent the spread of Covid-19, 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 recovery and future business resilience.

Smallholder farms account for nearly 35% of the world’s total food production, but the pandemic has seriously hampered their operations. In Indonesia small-scale coffee producers are reporting a 70-90% drop in sales contracts compared to last year while, according to World Food Program, 16 million people in Latin America are at risk of not having enough food to survive due to the economic crisis, the hurricane season, and the pandemic.

“SECO is a proud and longstanding partner of the Fairtrade system,” said Monica Rubiolo, head of trade promotion at the Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern, Switzerland. “With our contribution to the fund, SECO is helping to save lives and livelihoods of those most affected by the pandemic. We want to demonstrate our commitment in these very difficult times which are particularly challenging for producers, small holders and value chain workers around the world.”

“Of course, the overall amount of the funds secured is absolutely tremendous,” added Dario Soto Abril, CEO of Fairtrade International, “but as we move through this pandemic it’s becoming more clear that commitment, collaboration and partnerships are critical to maximising impact against poverty, and achieving sustainable incomes for farmers. These partnerships are a tribute to that effort. What’s more, it points to Fairtrade as the partner of choice when it comes to investing in positive impact for producers.”

Fairtrade International launched the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund and the Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund on 9 May. The Relief Fund targets immediate needs while the Producer Resilience Fund addresses the pandemic’s effect on the long-term needs of producers post Covid-19. 

Related: Fairtrade International launches producer relief and resilience funds

Sanjeet Khurana, chief operating officer at Fairtrade’s Network of Asia and Pacific Producers said: “We realised very early on that this disruption has had an impact on all, in one way or another. Relief operations were conducted across all regions and crops. We are also aware that alone we would not make a big impact and if this drive is supported by other partners the recovery would be faster and sustained.” 

Adriana Valle Aguilar, communication coordinator for the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC) added: “The Economic Recovery Fund wants to help farmers to build resilience and economic sustainability.

“The fund will support initiatives to diversify production and promote food sovereignty, for organic patches, seed banks, storage of basic grains, and diversification for diet transformation or local sales. Initiatives will also support the production of organic inputs through the creation of bio-factories, and elaboration of fertilisers, among others.

“Also, CLAC will help organisers to diversify markets by boosting trade and exchange within communities through local fairs, direct sales in national and regional community markets, direct sales by home delivery of products, exchange networks, and virtual platforms for local sales.”

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