COVID-19 - Keep Apart, Stay United

Find out how Fairtrade is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Oserian flower farm workers making face masks in Kenya

Oserian flower workers sew masks

Across the globe, each one of us has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is a global humanitarian challenge. Now, more than ever, we must support one another, especially the most vulnerable members of society.

Impact on Farmers and Workers in the Global South

Fairtrade continues to work to advocate and support small-scale farmers and workers in developing countries. The farmers and workers Fairtrade serves are some of the most vulnerable and the least prepared for a pandemic.

We are gathering updates from around the world about how COVID-19 is affecting producer organisations, family farmers, and workers. Below is an overview of the latest information.

Fairtrade CLAC marks in a circleCLAC: Get the latest updates from Fairtrade certified farmers and workers across Latin America and the Caribbean:

Open this Google Document for updates from CLAC


Fairtrade Africa mark in a circleFairtrade Africa: Get the latest updates from Fairtrade certified farmers and workers across the African continent.

Open this Google Document for latest updates from Fairtrade Africa


Fairtrade NAPP mark in a circleNAPP: Get the latest updates from Fairtrade certified farmers and workers across Asia and the Pacific.

Open this Google Document for the latest news from NAPP


What we are doing to support farmers and workers

Fairtrade is working with the Producer Networks on an ongoing basis to take action to support producers and workers in the Global South.

Flexibility in Fairtrade Premium use

Fairtrade International announced increased flexibility in its Standards to enable producer organisations to take immediate action to protect the health and livelihoods of farmers, workers and their communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means producer organisations are free to spend Fairtrade Premium funds more flexibly to minimise the spread of disease, such as by purchasing and distributing face masks or other personal protective equipment, or by implementing hygiene campaigns.

Read about the new procedures introduced on the Fairtrade International website 

Changes in audit procedures

Fairtrade’s independent certifier, FLOCERT, has amended their audit procedures to help minimise physical interactions. All physical audits have been paused until April 22, 2020, which includes existing certified producers as well as new applicants.


Update on Key Fairtrade Product Sectors

Coffee

coffee bean icon - blackAlthough through retail sales Fairtrade coffee sales have remained strong, global coffee prices are highly volatile right now, due to uncertainty in the commodities markets. This puts producers in extreme uncertainty and threatens their livelihoods. In several high-volume producing regions, such as Honduras and Peru, movement has been severely restricted, which will impact the harvesting, transport and milling of coffees. 

Bananas
bunch of bananas icon - black on whiteDemand for bananas has remained strong thus far. Farms are taking necessary measures for increased sanitisation, equipment, barriers between workers, and providing extra transport for workers. Activities on banana farms continue, but with reduced staff to lower the risk of virus transmission. However, we expect production costs for the banana producers will increase as they take additional sanitary measures to protect against the virus.

Tea
tea bag icon blackThere has been a sharp decline in demand and price for tea from certain origins. Some of the major tea buying auctions have been suspended or postponed. The three-week lockdown in India disrupted the first-flush harvest and is preventing the essential maintenance of tea bushes. African tea origins have also been adversely affected by the drop in market demand and port restrictions. Tea workers, who often live in poverty, are especially vulnerable. 

Cocoa
cocoa pod icon - black and whiteHarvests are taking place in Central/South America and the Caribbean, but are impacted by movement restrictions and logistical challenges. For the Ivory Coast, a new Fairtrade Minimum Price of US$212.14/mt was announced this week for deliveries from April 1- September 30, 2020. Producers are working to ensure that all committed quantities can be exported, although there are some delays expected at ports in Ghana.

Flowers
flower icon - blackAccording to the Kenya Flower Council, an estimated $300,000 a day is being lost to the industry as a result of COVID-19, with 50 tonnes of flowers being dumped daily. Tens of thousands of workers on Fairtrade certified flower farms have lost their jobs, with no local work alternatives, and there is growing concern about the long-term financial stability of flower farms if shipments do not resume soon.


Textiles and cotton
Cotton flower icon - blackThe drop in retail sector sales has resulted in a sharp decline in demand and price for cotton. While most Fairtrade cotton has been harvested, all ginning units and spinning mills are closed, which means there is a financial risk for farmers if the market opens at a lower price. Land preparation and cotton sowing for the next season is expected to be affected by delays in seed distribution.

Latest stories

Waridi Limited farm situated near Athi River close to Nairobi Kenya

Read the latest COVID-19 related stories on the Fairtrade blog