Covid-19: African farmers lost 80% of revenue in 2020

“There is a need to radically transform our food systems to make them more efficient and sustainable” says Fairtrade Africa as a continent-wide virtual conference for farmers and farmworkers kicks off today. Agricultural trade and investment is high on the agenda

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Improving value chains and conditions translating to improved livelihoods for farmers and workers in Africa will be at the heart of a global discussion at the Africa Fairtrade Convention (AFC), which kicks off today. This, as new research shows African farmers lost up to 80% of their revenue last year.

This year’s convention is held virtually until Friday, 25 June 2021. More than 1 000 farmers and agricultural role-players from 99 countries are seeking ways to improve trade amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fairtrade Africa is a member of the wider International Fairtrade Movement which represents 1.7 million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide.

A huge blow to farmers

Chris Oluoch, Fairtrade Africa programmes director. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Chris Oluoch, Fairtrade Africa programmes director. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Speaking during a virtual press conference, Fairtrade Africa programme director Chris Oluoch said farmers in Africa lost 80% of their revenue due to the pandemic.

Furthermore, as companies closed shop due to lack of access to markets as most countries closed their borders, many workers also lost their jobs.

Most affected (in certain parts of the continent) was the flower sector where a number of flower farms shut down their businesses, he said.

“In Kenya, about three flower farms completely shut down their business, while in Tanzania, two farms closed shop. The effects of the pandemic continue to cause havoc on the agriculture sector in the region that is already suffering from post-harvest losses,” Oluoch said.

Standards and market access

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Furthermore, the pandemic, Oluech reckons, triggered a wake-up call for governments to increase their investment in protecting African farmers from these losses.

“There is A need to radically transform our food systems to make them more efficient and sustainable,” he said.  

Among the participants expected to attend include producers, traders, partner organisations, governments and policy makers.

Fairtrade system members as well as Fairtrade Africa member farmers and workers will also be in attendance. Participants can look forward to farmers and workers sharing best practices in a bid to build understanding of production in the region.

Farmers to shine at Fair Ngoma Awards

According to Dr Argent Chuula, executive director at Fairtrade Africa, the convention will include deal rooms, networking lounges, virtual farm tours, virtual exhibitions, and breakaway sessions.

Dr Argent Chuula, executive director at Fairtrade Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Dr Argent Chuula, executive director at Fairtrade Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“Also, there will be discussions on upcoming market regulation and the impact of new rules for the certification of organic grower groups in developing countries supplying the growing EU organic market,” Chuula states.

The convention will culminate in the second edition of the Fair Ngoma Awards.

The convention and awards are co-funded by the European Union through the project “Unlocking the power of producers and workers to drive inclusive trade and development through fair trade”.

This project is being implemented across the Fairtrade system to strengthen its governance systems, promote inclusion and efficiency within the system and increase the system’s capacity.

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