Fair trade relations: offering a grip in corona days

Corona is affecting the whole world and therefore also the Oxfam suppliers in its four corners. We call them our partners and in times like these we really live up to that partnership. Over the years we have built a solid trade relation and a bond of trust with these producer groups.

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Our trade relations without intermediaries are more than merely a matter of fair price buying and selling. We work with a short supply chain, even though the goods themselves come from afar. We grant fair trade premiums, that benefit entire communities. We guarantee long term relations. We pay in advance for the deliveries. We offer support and advice in all kinds of matters… and in times of adversity we offer extra help from the Partnerfonds.

Also during the current crisis we keep a close watch on these often vulnerable farmers and cooperatives. Below you will find more news on our coffee and cocoa partners in Africa.

Fair trade results in certainty

All over the world our partners acknowledge that Oxfam’s collaborative style makes them more resilient in the crisis at hand. On top of that, Fairtrade International, the worldwide organization that sets the Fair Trade criteria, has decided to allow cooperatives to make more flexible use of their fair trade premiums. So that for the time being they can immediately use them for buying mouth masks or sensitizing material.

  • Now that our partners’ sales are hitting a rough patch, the very fact that they can sell their goods at correct prices keeps them from slipping into a financial hole. They can count on us in the long term, even when the corona crisis makes it hard for them to live up to deals made.

Congo is in lockdown and mouth masks are obligatory in the cities. No more than 20 people are allowed to gather in one spot. For Sopacdi, one of the producers of our Congo coffee, the situation requires quite a lot more organization. They are in mid harvest season and the places for trading and washing the coffee berries are usually very crowded.

As for export, so far everything seems to function more or less normally. But the demand for Kivu coffee is decreasing. Compared to last year our partner Sopacdi only managed to make half of the contracts. Buyers who had been showing interest before the crisis but who had not signed a contract yet, now shirk from doing so.

  • Many of our partners have been investing our fair trade premiums in health care centers and sanitation, which now prove to be of help in keeping the corona virus at bay from the communities they work in.

In the Ivory Coast, due to lockdown measures, our cocoa partner Ecookim‘s co-workers are restricted to the capital Abidjan. This makes it harder for them to support cocoa farmers all over the country. But the cooperatives belonging to the umbrella organization Ecookim still manage to reach the farmers, distribute hygiene kits and sensitize people about the virus. Just like during the ebola outbreak the educators keep hammering it home: avoid crowded places and wash your hands frequently. The educators also collaborate with local radio stations that inform the people in their local languages. In general Ecookim takes good heart: “The rain season has a slow start. If the weather stays this way, the next harvest might just well be a very good one.”

The same goes for the young cooperative Coopasa, which by the way also adds a bright spot to the news: apart from cocoa beans these farmers also produce soap made of cacao fat. Because of the great demand for soap this sideline is now more profitable than usually.

The coffee farmers of Cococa in Burundi are in full harvest season. This implies the gathering of a lot of people in places for collecting and harvesting the coffee berry. Here, Cococa takes extra hygienic measurements. And the Oxfam-Wereldwinkel Partnerfonds provides extra financial support for buying material and products, as well as for sensitizing their members.

Together we make the difference

All this delicious faire trade chocolate, coffee, wine and all the numerous other food products that offer us some relief during the lockdown… we owe it all to farmers like our partners. Indispensable though they may be, the # foodfrontliners, who produce it all, are often invisible.

In committing yourself as a customer you are offering these farmers more certainty, which makes a huge difference in the current crisis. By choosing Oxfam Fair Trade you offer them what they deserve. A better income, faith in the future and visibility in the complex network of international trade.

Order your Oxfam Fair Trade products

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