“The work with Fairtrade is very important because we learn to monitor the environment and improve our cultivation techniques.” For Magda Reza of the coffee farmers cooperative Sonomoro, located in the Equatorial Peruvian jungle, there is only one threat to the future of her cooperative, and that is climate change and its devastating effects. The seasons are no longer the same, and the rain is starting to become unpredictable. Last year a fungus called “Roya” destroyed most of the coffee plants and with them the main source of income for many farmers.
To fight her battle and that of the other farmers in the region, Magda, along with nine producers from her cooperative, has participated in a training program organized by Fairtrade together with the NGO Twin Trading and the German supermarket chain Lidl. During the training the promodores (literally ‘promoters’ because, after the training, they pass the knowledge on to other groups of producers in their region) are briefed on fertilization techniques, on water drainage, and preparation of compost, which can in help to contain the Roya epidemic. But during the training they also learn that the rise in temperature and high humidity allow for different crops to be grown. So today Magda on her land can cultivate, in addition to coffee, also cocoa and yucca: it has transformed the limitations into opportunities. “We do not ask for charity, but only the opportunity to work and to be able to overcome the challenges we are fighting through our strengths”, said Magda during a trip to Germany where she was an endorser of the project.
The number of events linked to climate change are growing, especially in the developing countries. Rising temperatures and increased rainfall, flooding and drought are phenomena of which thousands of producers have fallen victim. Research from the Institute of Natural Resources at the University of Greenwich indicates that climate change “will have a significant impact on agricultural production, food security and economic development, mainly in the developing countries”.
And it’s not only in Peru. Fairtrade coffee producers from all over Latin America have been heavily affected by the spread of leaf rust, affecting more than 50% of the coffee growing areas in Central America, and around 30-40% in South America. Climate change has been identified as the main factor in the spread of this epidemic. Things are no better in Africa: for example in 2012 the tea pickers in the eastern part of the continent, fell victim to a heavy frost that destroyed thousands of acres of shrubs. And in the news just a few days ago, the terrible floods in Malawi. Experts say that it is due to climate change that such events occur with increasing frequency and intensity. Unfortunately, the future does not look promising. In fact, many studies indicate that in 2050 productivity of coffee, cocoa, tea and cotton will suffer and production in some areas could even disappear. Many farmers will need to adapt their farming practices to the new climatic conditions or risk losing their source of livelihood.
To respond to the situation, Fairtrade has developed a series of programs aimed at producers on the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. One of these is the one in Sonomoro, which has supported Magda and the other 497 producers of Junin, an area well known for its coffee as 28 percent of the total Peruvian production comes from there.
English translation by EXPONet – originally published on magazine.expo2015.org [link: http://magazine.expo2015.org/cs/Exponet/en/economy/fairtrade–using-information-to-fight-climate-change