HAMBURG, Germany – Smallholder coffee farmer families are specifically vulnerable. They lack access to information, healthcare, reliable testing or sanitation materials like soap or disinfectants. Movement restrictions, suspending of rural markets and banning gatherings might well challenge families’ cash flows and supplies.
Also, coffee operations might be affected with limited availability of services, difficulties in hiring labor 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, International Coffee Partners (ICP) with its shareholders Löfbergs (Sweden), Delta Cafés (Portugal), Franck (Croatia), Joh. Johannson (Norway), Lavazza (Italy), Neumann Gruppe (Germany), Paulig (Finland), and Tchibo (Germany) remains committed to continue the support of smallholder families. ICP has adapted activities accordingly to foremost work with them to jointly overcome this crisis.
This is done with a number of measures. ICP remains close to the farmers as many of the extensionists live and work in rural areas. They can stay in contact with farmer families by calling them or conducting imperative individual visits. Wherever possible operations switch to digital solutions for communication like SMS-Services, Social Media or cooperation with local radio stations.
Farmer communities are continuously informed about the risks associated with the virus and governments are supported in spreading the news about regulations and recommended behavior to enable our beneficiaries and their families to best protect themselves. Remote work for office staff is in place as well as recommendations like frequent handwashing or avoiding handshakes.
To ICP it is important to show ongoing commitment to mitigate disruptions caused by natural and health events by giving practical help to the coffee farmer families in ICP project regions. So does ICP continue to stand side-by-side with smallholder farmer families during the COVID-19 pandemic. They need ongoing support even more right now.
– 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.
ICP and its implementing partner Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) feel a strong responsibility for both beneficiaries and staff in the project countries Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala.
It is ensured that the most essential messages to continue farming operations are conveyed.
– Our offices are already adapting their work based on local government regulations and are analyzing 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic will influence rural areas and agriculture for months to come. At International Coffee Partners we are confident that together we will navigate as efficient as possible through this crisis.