By Fairtrade NAPP (Network of Asia and Pacific Producers)
Amidst the rising fears of our farmers, workers and producers that the rapid spread of the coronavirus will result in a shutdown of agricultural operations, a decline of production and loss of sales, most of the producers in the Asia and Pacific Region are currently taking steps to educate its farmers and workers to create awareness and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
While the small producer organisations for tea in China are battling against the shortage of migrant laborers for tea plucking during this spring harvest season, the plantations in Assam and Darjeeling are aggressively taking steps to educate its workers through COVID 19 awareness programs. Tea cultivation in the region has just begun for the year and closure of the Tea Gardens at this moment would raise another bigger epidemic in the Tea Estates; hunger.
Since the vast majority of farming must be done in person it’s very urgent that such awareness programs are carried out. The programs are playing an important role in disseminating information about the disease, its transmission, associated health hazards and precautionary measures to be undertaken immediately to avoid its potential transmission to farmers, workers and the community.
Jamguri Tea Estate and Chedaideo Purbat Tea Estate in Assam, India
The awareness program was initiated by the management of the tea gardens on 17th March with active participation from the majority of the workers. Leaflets with information on disease prevention measures were printed in the local language and distributed to the workers. Emphasis was put on the regular maintenance of health and hygiene. The workers opined that they were unaware of the virus and such awareness program really helped them to understand how to save themselves from such an outbreak.
Ali Trading Company (Pvt) Ltd – Sports Ball Producer in Pakistan
The women leaders of NAPP’s (Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers) Gender Leadership School have undeniably stood strong as fierce role models by taking the initiative to conduct a two day workshop for its workers and staff. Selected members from each department were oriented on the basic information of the disease, its associated symptoms and myths, and preventive measures to be adopted not only at their workplace but also at their homes and in their communities.
‘In the wake of the imminent spread of the COVID-19 virus epidemic and following government advice, we felt we had a responsibility towards the country and the workers as well. All possible precautions are being made to minimise the threat of this pandemic. We have made provisions of protective masks to all our workers. The masks are locally produced and disposable and we provide them on a daily basis. We have displayed awareness posters in different areas of the factory, imparted precautionary training to our workers and staff. Hand sanitisers and liquid soaps are kept in sufficient quantities in washrooms. In case of any symptoms, they are briefed to go on fully paid leave and to report to work only after they have fully recovered.’ Said Gayur Abbas, Fairtrade Officer- Ali Trading Company (Pvt) Ltd.
‘As a Gender Leadership School women leader, it was my moral and professional responsibility to play my role in the awareness building of co-workers especially women to ensure that the current outbreak of COVID-19 was responded to quickly and efficiently to prevent its further spread.’ Sumbal Shabir – HR Officer and Member at NAPP’s Gender School of Leadership.
Even though no cases of COVID-19 have been reported, preventive measures are already being taken against the virus spreading.