CEOS from 25 countries call for G20 support of producers in developing countries to fight COVID-19

CEOs of Fairtrade organisations across the globe have written to the Chair of the G20, His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, to call on G20 leaders to help protect farmers and workers in developing countries from the worst effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Smallholder farmers and farm workers, including Fairtrade farmers, supplying global coffee, food, and clothing supply chains, are at high risk of illness and mortality from COVID-19.

“We are deeply concerned about the effects that the virus will have on farmers and workers across the developing world, including those producing food and other goods that G20 countries rely on,” says Darío Soto Abril, Chief Executive Officer Fairtrade International.

“There is an urgent need to provide humanitarian measures to protect people’s health and lives while at the same time support economic measures to ensure continued livelihoods.”

According to the last United Nations University forecasts, more than half a billion people could be pushed into poverty due to this crisis. The farmers and workers Fairtrade works with are already among the world’s poorest people, living in communities with weak or non-existent safety nets, inadequate health care and safe water and sanitation, and at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

The organisation warns that the crisis is disrupting global supply chains. Lockdowns in importing countries, while necessary for public safety, are resulting in a rapid and severe drop in orders in some supply chains, such as coffee. This has led to heavy job and income losses among groups who were already vulnerable, and will increase poverty unless urgent support is given.

Global sales of Fairtrade products total around US$9 billion per year, but Fairtrade producer organisations stand to lose around US$380 million per year in Fairtrade Premium if they are unable to sell their products. Even if demand for imports does resume, developing countries themselves have begun, or are likely to begin, their own lockdown measures, which will lead to further losses of employment or income unless special assistance is given to farmers and workers.

“We urge G20 leaders to push for a comprehensive response to this crisis for low income countries across five areas where action is needed. The Fairtrade movement supports around 10 million people in total and we stand ready to be a partner to minimise the impact of this crisis on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities,” Abril says.

“By supporting producers through this emergency, both economically and in public health, we will support G20 food security during the crisis and in recovery. Now, more than ever, the G20 has a huge shared interest in ensuring the resilience and sustainability of global supply chains.”

Fairtrade’s five action points include: protection for jobs and livelihoods, personal protective equipment, support healthcare strengthening, wider economic measures, and sustainability.

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