International Coffee Partners reaffirms commitment to producers during COVID-19

The International Coffee Partners (ICP) has announced concern over the short and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on smallholder coffee farmers and their families.

It adds coffee regions in which it implements projects are increasingly affected as well. Smallholders are specifically vulnerable, as they lack access to information, healthcare, reliable testing, or sanitation materials like soap or disinfectants.

“The call for keeping distance from each other to prevent the further spreading of the new coronavirus might separate us physically. Socially, we are closer to each other than ever. And for us at ICP that means to stay connected with the coffee farmer families we work with as much as possible”, says ICP Chairperson Kathrine Löfberg.

Movement restrictions, suspending of rural markets, and banning gatherings pose threats to their cash flows and supplies. Coffee operations might be affected with limited availability of services, difficulties in hiring labour during peak times, and disturbed product chains. At the same time, agricultural production goes on, crop cycles continue, and families need access to food and cash.

Against this background, ICP shareholders Delta Cafés of Portugal, Franck of Croatia, Joh Johannson of Norway, Lavazza of Italy, Löfbergs of Sweden, Neumann Gruppe of Germany, Paulig of Finland, and Tchibo of Germany remain committed to continue the support of smallholder families.

The organisation says it remains close to farmers as many extensionists live and work in rural areas, and can stay in contact with farmer families by calling them or conducting imperative individual visits. Wherever possible, operations will switch to digital solutions for communication like SMS services, social media, or cooperation with local radio stations.

It says farmer communities are continuously informed about risks associated with the virus and governments are supported in spreading the news about regulations and recommended behaviour. Remote work for office staff is in place as well as recommendations like frequent handwashing or avoiding handshakes.

“Our offices are already adapting their work based on local government regulations and are analysing where farmers stand in the production and marketing cycle of their harvests, how farmers can secure their own food supply in times of the crisis, and how we can help securing the incomes of farmer households”, says ICP Managing Director Michael Opitz.

Project countries the ICP and implementing partner Hanns R Neumann Stiftung feel are particularly vulnerable include Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Brazil, Honduras, and Guatemala.

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