More than 1,000 have been reported dead since Hurricane Mathew struck Haiti on October 4, 2016, according to a recent article published by Reuters. With winds as strong as 230 km/hour, the hurricane was classified as a category 4 on the international scale. The current death toll, as released by the Haitian government and local authorities, continues to grow as rescue teams have not yet reached all affected areas. Haiti has been the most severely affected by Hurricane Mathew, the strongest to hit the Caribbean in the last decade. Nearly 30,000 Haitians are in temporary housing facilities, while another 10,000 remain without shelter.
It is estimated that the total damages, both to Haitians and their homes, have left more than 60,000 displaced. Authorities are currently prioritizing the hardest hit communities, in order to prevent the possibility of a cholera outbreak similar to that which followed the 2010 earthquake.
Producer organizations are also suffering from the hurricane. Five organizations, representing 50% of Haiti’s National Fairtrade Platform called KOSEA, are located in the country’s most affected region. More than 6,000 members have lost their homes, harvests, and animals; fortunately, no human lives have been lost.
APCAB and COOPCAB, two coffee organizations in the southeast region of Haiti, were moderately affected. Fruit (bananas, avocadoes, citrus) harvests were lost, in addition to part of October’s coffee harvest. There was also damage to coffee processing facilities.
Organizations that experienced severe damages include ASPVEFS (mango), CACVA (coffee), and CAUD (cocoa), all located in the southwest region. 85% of roofs were damaged or lost due to high winds, and 70% of all producers are in temporary housing facilities, many lacking basic needs and safety. In the Caribbean, hurricane season extends through November, leaving Haitians at risk for other tropical storms.
In solidarity with Haitian communities, CLAC is making a call to action, to support the producer organizations that have suffered losses from Hurricane Matthew. When faced with humanitarian crises such as this, it is important to act as quickly as possible. In the short term, there is an urgent need for water, food, clothing, medication, personal hygiene items, and building materials. However, more support will be required to rebuild and repair homes, and manage crop damage.
Although we cannot control natural disasters, we can take action to support those affected. If you are able, please make a donation to CLAC using the below account information. All proceeds will go directly to the fair trade producer organizations affected by the hurricane in Haiti. Once you make a donation, please send a copy of the transaction to firstname.lastname@example.org for processing. CLAC will provide an audited report regarding the use of the resources.
Name: Banco Popular de Puerto Rico
Address: 1500 Ave. Ponce De Leon 2do Piso Pda. 22
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00909
Organization: CLAC – FONDOS PROPIOS
Account #: 004057546
Address: Avenida El Boquerón y Calle Ayagualo, No M1-A, Ciudad Merliot, La Libertad, El Salvador.
Telephone: 503 2278-4635, 503 2124-4376
Hurricane Mathew struck the northern coast of Colombia on October 1, 2016. In the departments of Guajira and Magdalena, strong winds and torrential rains have left nearly 14,000 people affected.
Critical damage can be seen in municipalities Aracataca and Zona Bananera, in Magdalena. Strong rains in the Sierra Nevada disproportionately increased river flow, causing heavy flooding in the surrounding areas. In Zona Bananera, Mayor Holmes Echeverría indicated that the tragedy most heavily hit the towns of Seville and Guacamayal, where river flooding has affected nearly 7,000. Both rural and urban areas were submerged in more than two meters of flood water; however, thanks to early warning and disaster response agencies, the population was able to evacuate in ample time.
It is important to note that this region has been repeatedly affected by extreme climate conditions in recent years, such as long-term drought and high wind damage from another hurricane that struck the area. How can we measure extreme weather conditions? Who can be prepared for a natural disaster of this size?
“Nearly all of the community is facing damage. We have never experienced anything like this; this is greater than the flooding of 1999. The river overflowed the preventative bank we recently built and 70% of the municipality has been affected by flood water,” said the mayor of Aracataca.
In this region CLAC has six member organizations, all of which are banana cooperatives. At the heavily hit COOBAMAG Cooperative, more than 500 people have been affected, including producers, works, cooperative employees, and their families. Flooding also impacted producers and workers at COOBAFRIO, COOMULBANANO, and EMPREBANCOOP.
“This turbine is an investment that was made at Finca Buen Retiro, costing nearly 40 million pesos (approximately $14,000 USD), and it’s underwater. We can only hope that it will continue to work with minor repairs,” said Fredy Rodríguez, manager of COOBAMAG.
Now is the most vital time to reinvent ourselves, and take into account these signs from nature. Our decisions and efforts should be focused on being more aware, more capable, more united, and above all, more strategic in our future. CLAC is currently working to promote discussion of environmental issues, and to create a climate change adaptation plan; however, the problem is much greater than CLAC and its members. It is going to take the power of influencing the wider community, raising awareness amongst youth, and generating real alternatives to climate change to prepare for inevitable situations such as Hurricane Mathew.
In colaboration with local-level organizations in Colombia, CLAC is working to provide support to the organizations and associations affected by the hurricane. If you are able, please make a donation to the Colombian Initiative of Small Fair Trade Producers, using the below account information. Once you have made a donation, please send a copy of the receipt to email@example.com.
BANK NAME: DAVIVIENDA
BANK ADDRESS: Carrera 8 N° 1N 60
CHECKING ACCOUNT NUMBER: 196100121744
ACCOUNT NAME: La Iniciativa Colombiana
LA INICIATIVA COLOMBIANA ADDRESS: Carrera 9 2-32 Barrio San Francisco, Popayán, Cauca, Colombia.
Young people from the La Fortuna/APECAFÉ Cooperative in El Salvador and CLAC signed an agreement for a project entitled “Recuperation of ecosystem and protection of groundwater reserves in the La Fortuna coffee and balsam cooperative.” The aim of the project is to implement measures to mitigate the effects of climate change in the Cooperative, with active participation by young people, with a firm commitment to maintain an ecosystem in sustainable conditions. The project is minimizing environmental impact by planting native trees, specifically species identified in the zone for their ecological and commercial importance.
“We are experiencing the effects of climate change, and as young producers, we need assistance in seeking ways to minimize the impact on us. It is important that we are taken into consideration in terms of the processes that organizations are using to improve the situation in communities and to ensure the survival of cooperatives,” stated Teresa de Jesús Buendía, a daughter of a member of the La Fortuna Cooperative in El Salvador, during the signing of the agreement between the cooperative and CLAC.
Gabriel Marroquín Choto, a specialist in forest systems, is assisting the project as a volunteer. He will provide follow-up for the construction and maintenance of greenhouses, the collection of seeds, and other activities involved in reforesting the areas identified. He will also work to strengthen the group of youth participants, to apply the knowledge they have acquired in the project.
“We very much liked the proposal because it came directly from young people. It is a project that will help us to care for our environment, and work in the area of climate change and environmental sustainability, and it will be young people who will play the central role. This is an initiative that can signal a change in the future for the benefit of our organizations,” stated Xiomara Paredes, CLAC’s Executive Director.
The signing of this agreement is a commitment based on mutual interest, to apply knowledge acquired, and to seek a better living situation for the cooperative’s families and communities. “Our cooperatives have the vocation of caring for the environment—the aspects where work is needed—and for us, this project will contribute to a change. And if we don’t open up these spaces to our young people, this may end up collapsing,” commented Ricardo Puentes, President of the Salvadoran Network (CESPPO).
Aimeth Fernández Angulo stood out for her passion and commitment for smallscale banana producers in her native Colombia and for her work with the the global Fair Trade movement. Aimeth’s leadership strengthened ASOBANARCOOP – a cooperative in Magdalena, Colombia – where she worked hard to ensure that Fairtrade could make a difference in the lives of banana farmers, families, colleagues and community.
The ASOBANARCOOP Cooperative was her home for 29 years, serving as manager, using her experience as an economist, extensive knowledge of quality management systems (QMS), and extensive experience in business management.
Aimeth, the daughter of a cooperative founder, volunteered as a youth, and then worked as head of administration, eventually becoming the cooperative manager, where, among her many efforts, she made sure that the organization met certification standards. She was a member of the Education Committee responsible for training programs funded with Fairtrade Premium, and worked directly with health and environmental programs targeting at-risk people, children and adolescents. To Aimeth, ‘ASOBANARCOOP was her life’ as she said many times. She is remembered by her colleagues as a cheerful, loving and kind woman who always had a smile and a sincere hug; qualities that stood out and won the respect of all who knew her in the organization.
Aimeth was also promoter of ASOCOOMAG, an umbrella organization for several banana cooperatives in the region. In that role she helped develop direct marketing channels so that small producers could achieve greater profits selling their fruit.
Her influence went well beyond Colombia’s borders. In March 2014, Aimeth visited England for the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign where she made a keynote presentation on the life of banana farmers and how Fairtrade has made a difference in their communities. During her tour, Aimeth also visited schools and shared about how buying Fairtrade bananas helps to support producers and workers in developing countries, ensuring a dignified and fulfilling life.
During the Fifth CLAC Assembly held in El Salvador in November 2015, she was elected as a representative of the Banana Network in Latin America and voted to the Board of Directors of CLAC. Her goal was always to make the small producer more visible, and their voice heard in the global Fairtrade system.
Today, we deeply regret her passing (September 12, 2016). However Aimeth’s work, dedication and spirit remain in the hearts of all who have heard and learned from her experiences, challenges and achievements on behalf of banana farmers and all smallscale farmers and workers. She leaves a legacy for new generations who saw her speak and live Fair Trade principles in their daily life.
With the objectives of debating the situation and prospects for sugar cane in Paraguay, developing a strategic-participative planning process for using available resources, and promoting sugar cane production in the country, the Paraguayan Network participated in the public hearing organized by the Agriculture and Livestock Commission of the country’s House of Representatives and the national Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
Diego Cabral, a representative of Cañeros Orgánicos Asociados (CORA), believes that sugar cane is very important in family agriculture, as it directly generates a source of work for over 10,000 producers. “We are talking about approximately 50,000 people directly benefitting from sugar cane.”
The Network presented the situation at a plenary session, with information prepared in coordination with Paraguay Orgánico and the Paraguayan Chamber of Organic Producers (Cámara Paraguaya de Productores Orgánicos—CPROA). One of the presenters, Andrés González, a representative of the Manduvira Sugar Industry and Cooperative, emphasized sugar’s importance as a Paraguayan export product. “Paraguay ranks number one as a producer and exporter country, and has a positive presence in the world’s best markets, due to organic sugar, which is a healthy product that reflects respect for and caring for the environment,” he stated.
At the end of the event, the Inter-institutional Sugar Cane Sector Working Group was established, with participation by government institutions and the Paraguayan Fair Trade Network, as well as representatives from the industrial sector and producers from other sugar cane organizations in the country.
According to the most recent survey data from CLAC, there are 13 small producers’ organizations in Paraguay that are Fair Trade certified for sugar cane production. For a general panorama of the sugar situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, please visit our SUGAR INFOGRAPH at INFOGRAFÍA DE AZÚCAR.
During 2015, CLAC provided a total of 186 Small Producers’ Organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean with training in strengthening capacities in the areas of social compliance and children’s well-being. Along these lines, a workshop on these topics was held in November 2015 in Peru, in the northeastern region of the Amazons (Región Nor Oriental de Amazonas). In attendance were representatives of important organizations of coffee producers. The objective was to enhance knowledge regarding compliance criteria within Fair Trade standards, as well as to consolidate collaborative relationships for confronting the challenges that these topics present for our society.
As a result of this workshop, efforts began to build what is today a reality: a Network of Cooperation in the technical areas of Lonya Grande coffee organizations. The network is composed of the CECAFE, JUMARP and Montaña Azul cooperatives, which bring together over 1,150 families in Fair Trade Organizations from the Lonya Grande, Yamón, Camporredondo and Ocallí districts of the Amazons Region.
“Our initiative is a great opportunity for our coffee-producer families. We are supporting each other mutually and strengthening our ties within inclusive fair trade, with principles and with respect for our societies,” stated Elvis Huanca, the Network’s coordinator.
Currently, the network has invested financial resources from the fair trade premium in implementing activities such as posters on children’s rights and well-being, workshops on Fairtrade system standards, and social impact campaigns.
The CAFESUL Coffee Producers’ Cooperative in the Southern part of the Espírito Santo state, headquartered in Muqui, inaugurated its installations for a project to expand infrastructure for processing, storing and marketing coffee. This is a social investment of 1.2 million dollars in the coffee production chain made by the Bank of Brazil Foundation and the National Bank of Economic and Social Development (Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social—BNDES).
CAFESUL president Carlos Renato Theodoro stated that “strengthening infrastructure promotes improved coffee quality and cooperative production capacity. This investment requires greater cooperation with the structure and logistics necessary to satisfy the world’s most demanding markets.”
During the event, CAFESUL’s Fifth Conilon Coffee Quality Competition was held, with the aim of promoting improvements in coffee quality and sustainable production. There was also an exhibit of handicrafts produced by CAFESUL’s Women’s Group, with the details that represent the history of Muqui’s location and folklore. This year the cooperative will organize CAFESUL’s first women’s coffee quality competition, encouraging them to produce high-quality coffee.
Currently, CAFESUL has 140 members in six municipalities in Espírito Santo. It obtained Fair Trade certification in 2008, and has received assistance from CLAC’s team since 2014 in the areas of maintaining certification, organizational strengthening and planning. CAFESUL guides a number of its members’ projects that provide training and incentives for improving coffee quality, using the Fairtrade premium. Especially worth highlighting are the coffee quality competition, the collective technical assistance project, member loyalty work, and the project for conserving and recuperating natural springs and soil.
There were a lot of fair trade activities in Chile during the month of August. One of them was the Eighth International Beekeeping Symposium, held in Santiago de Chile on August 12-14. Participating were more than 90 exhibitors, including producers of honey, beekeeping inputs and machinery distributors, who participated in the event. The main activity was a series of workshops led by experts from Chile and other countries such as Brazil, Argentina and European Union countries. In particular there was a special module on fair trade, for the first time, with a focus on current demand and prospects for fair trade honey in the international market.
Participants learned first-hand about the work within a beekeeping cooperative, with fair trade principles, the challenges they are confronting, and the search for markets for their products, according to Juan Eduardo Henríquez, manager of the Valdivia Beekeeping Campesino Cooperative (APICOOP).
In the context of the activities, an Impact Strategies Workshop was held on the 22nd and 23rd in the city of Curicó, for members of the Chilean National Network. Representatives of seven of the country’s producers’ organizations attended, leading to the formulation of the National Network’s impact strategy.
In addition the Network held meetings with various local stakeholders, such as producers’ organizations belonging to the World Fair Trade Organization (WTFO), government entities such as ProChile, FAO and national buyers. In addition, in the context of promoting campaigns such as “Latin American Cities and Towns in Favor of Fair Trade” (“Ciudades y Pueblos Latinoamericanos por el Comercio Justo”) and Latin American Universities in Favor of Fair Trade “Universidades Latinoamericanas por el Comercio Justo,” meetings were scheduled with the Universidad Autónoma de Chile, headquartered in the city of Talca and the Municipalidad de Sagrada Familia, located in the Curicó province.
In August 2016, an online marketing and web development workshop was held, attended by 33 representatives of 23 Fairtrade-certified small producers’ organizations in Honduras, most of whom were young people serving on Boards, or members, managers or operational technical personnel.
“We were taught how to publish in web pages and social networks. Now, we’ll be able to update our webpage and make ourselves known around the world,” commented Ronal Castro, leader of the Olancho Coffee Cooperative (COCAOL).
The workshop’s objective was to provide participants with knowledge regarding current, available virtual tools on internet. The workshop was presented by José Luis Casuso, a volunteer who looks forward to continuing to provide follow-up to those who have not yet developed their web pages, as well as helping others who need assistance in updating their web pages. As part of his solidarity work with organizations, he places a lot of emphasis on online marketing and the importance that organizations should place on this aspect of their work.
Roberto López Madrid, a representative of the COAGRICSAL Coffee Agricultural Cooperative in San Antonio, commented that “the workshop was very clear, very useful—everything that he showed us, in an energetic, pedagogical presentation, encouraging us to focus on sustainability at every opportunity. Now we need to practice, so we don’t forget what we learned.”
The event was part of the activities planned by the Honduran Small Producers’ Network (Coordinadora Hondureña de Pequeños Productores—CHPP), in the framework of the Finland project and CLAC’s strengthening strategy.