Art in a Cup
by Bruce Milletto

Support Fair Trade Communities in Tsunami Affected Areas

From Transfair USA

Growing Closer: Roasters Blend Results with Altruism
by Nick Obourn

What's Brewin' — New Coffee News

Support Fair Trade Communities in Tsunami Affected Areas

Courtesy of Transfair USA

UPDATE 1 – January 14th
How are Fair Trade communities being affected by the Asian earthquake and tsunamis?

The staff and Board of Directors of TransFair USA share the grief felt around the globe for the victims of the tsunami disaster and their families and loved ones. Many Fair Trade cooperatives and farms that we work with are in the affected countries, and we would like to share information about these communities with you as we find it over the coming weeks.

Here is a breakdown of Fair Trade organizations in the affected countries:
1. India: 29 tea producer groups, 10 tea exporters, 1 coffee producer group
2. Indonesia: 4 coffee producer groups
3. Sri Lanka: 15 tea producer groups, 6 tea exporters
4. Thailand: 1 coffee producer group, 1 coffee exporter

Report from TransFair USA

We are grateful that reported loss of life and physical damage has been minimal in the Fair Trade organizations, which are situated mostly inland and at higher altitudes, though the trauma and desolation is widespread. In solidarity with their people, members of Fair Trade organizations are finding ways to pitch in and assume leadership in the recovery efforts.
Our Producer Relations staff is in contact with numerous partner organizations and with producer partners to gather updates regarding export transportation delays and other information about how the communities have been affected.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated parts of the west and east coasts of Sumatra, in one of the top five coffee producing countries in the world. Indonesia’s death toll has exceeded 80,000. Coffee producers live in Aceh, near the reported epicenter of the quake.

An update Monday from a representative of the Sumatra coffee project reported at least two families in the growers co-op PPKGO were killed when their homes fell in on them. He also reported that many roads used to transport coffee from growers to the ports were blocked. The wet mill, used to process coffee for export, sustained damage. The largest warehouse remains intact and is being used as temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes. The co-op is providing emergency supplies of food and clothing to its members in need. The growers’ children attended schools in the heavily hit provincial capital of Banda Aceh. At this time 13 are reported missing.


TransFair producer relations spoke with seven representatives of tea gardens in India who reported that members are safe. Most report no physical damage to the gardens, but shipments are delayed. The two most affected states in India, according to producers, are Tamil nadu and Kerala.

In a January 6 communication from the United Nilgiri Tea Estates Co. Ltd., we received the following: “Thank you very much for your concern. It means a lot to us. The tsunami devastated part of Tamilnadu. Our garden is inland and up in the hills; but nonetheless the shock of many deaths and such desolation and devastation is horrible for all in Tamilnadu. Most of the victims are women and children. We have contributed one day salary to the Relief Fund. We have also requested the district administration our willingness to adopt 20 children who have been orphaned in the disaster.”

Sri Lanka
Representatives of Bio Foods report that farmers were not directly affected but that there are delays in exporting shipments.

No immediate losses reported. More information forthcoming.

All producer partners have indicated that they are safe and that shipments and infrastructure are not affected.

What you can do in collaboration with some of our Fair Trade partners:

  • The Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International has collected a list of producer partner group websites to make donations directly to Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia.
    See here for details.
  • Coffee Kids and ForesTrade: Contributions to the Sumatra Relief Fund will benefit coffee farming families in the heavily affected area of Aceh in Sumatra Funds are being sent to the PPKGO cooperative, and more information about the cooperative will be available on our
    web site shortly. Donate here.
  • Oxfam America is providing clean water, food, temporary shelter, and sanitation facilities to affected areas of India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia Donate here.
  • The Café Femenino Foundation is receiving funds to provide food, medical assistance, and infrastructure repairs in affected areas of Sumatra. Donate here.
  • Global Giving: Give directly to local organizations running sustainable reconstruction projects in SE Asia. With the help of leading non-profits like Ashoka, Give India, and World Neighbors, you can drive relief at a grass roots level. From medical camps to food to sanitation supplies, you can choose exactly which efforts your donation will support. Together, we can help get assistance to those most in need. To read about specific projects per country and to donate, click here.

UPDATE 1 – January 14th

In a January 13 communication, TransFair was informed by the Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA) that most of the growers are safe as they are 1600 km from Dar es Salaam where at least ten people have died. The RSTGA is a tea garden with 15,000 Small Producers owning 3.6 million hectars divided into small plots.

However, the Rungwe Mbeya region was affected by very strong wind accompanied by heavy torrential rains on January 12 which uprooted bananas and corn crops. Also, the roof of the RSTGO’s newly erected high school Ukukwe Secondary was destroyed as well as other nearby properties by the heavy rains. This Secondary had been built with the help of Fair Trade Premium funds. This month the high school will be re-opened but students will study in one classroom.

Rice producers in Thailand report that no problems in their region.

Sumatra, Indonesia - January 7 update from Forestrade
Fortunately, ForesTrade and PPKGO’s Aceh Sustainable Coffee Project is located three hours inland, in the Gayo highlands region near the town of Takengon. The coffee communities in this area sustained significant structural damage from the earthquakes, and sadly several family members of PPKGO were killed when their homes collapsed. While shelter and reconstruction is needed in Takengon, the area was spared from the much more severe devastation caused by the tsunamis in the coastal lowland parts of Aceh.

Communication out of Aceh is improving and we’ve begun receiving more timely news through our office in Padang, West Sumatra. From the PPKGO and our staff, it is clear that the coastal communities of Banda Aceh in the North and Bireun on the Eastern coast are two areas where the magnitude of emergency relief is most needed. ForesTrade, PPKGO and our partnering coffee processor, CV Trimaju have decided to focus the bulk of their immediate relief efforts in these coastal areas, where the needs are immense.

Calls and emails continue to stream into ForesTrade Vermont from concerned customers, investors, friends, and colleagues around the world, who want to know how the relief efforts are going.

January 6 update from Fair Trade Label Japan

Suguru Matsuki, Director, Wakahciai Project & Fairtrade Label Japan
One staff arrived in Aceh on January 3rd. Areas called “Bosko” in Aceh are receiving relief goods. Mr. Uno from the Japanese Fair Trade National Initiative, is now in Aceh with other staff. They have brought 100 boxes of used clothing, rice, cans of food and sanitary items. They are also planning on bringing relief goods to Nias Island which is near to the epicenter. They report that Nias has not received any relief workers yet.

The PPKGO's Direct Mobilization Efforts:

  • Immediately after the earthquake struck on December 26th, PPKGO and our partnering coffee processor CV Trimaju provided temporary shelter to people in the Gayo Highlands who lost their homes in the earthquake.
  • A search party was sent from Takengon to Banda Aceh to try and locate family members, and especially children from the coffee communities who were attending schools in the Capitol City. Tragically, 13 children of PPKGO members are still missing and presumed to be dead. Many other people are still unaccounted for.
  • Tuesday January 4th, PPKGO and CV Trimaju collected 8 truckloads of rice, fresh vegetables, and other supplies from Takengon and 20 co-op members loaded up their trucks and drove down to Banda Aceh to distribute the food and supplies. This was the second round of such deliveries.
  • A delivery of food and supplies was also made to Bireun on Aceh's east coast.
  • With each delivery the members are staying in the area for 3 to 5 days and volunteering their time and labor to help in the relief work.

The PPKGO has a long standing history of community relations and promoting humanitarian activities in the Takengon area. ForesTrade wants to ensure all charitable donors that any relief work resulting from your donations are being broadly distributed to all those communities in need in Takengon, and critical areas in Aceh Province.

ForesTrade expects to receive photos and other documentation about the relief efforts shortly and will share these with you as soon as they are available.

Sumatra Relief Work in Aceh, Sumatra - Indonesia How Your Donations to Coffee Kids, Café Femenino Foundation and Counterpart International are Being Used in the Sumatra Relief Effort:

Donations will be used to help relief efforts for coffee growers and their families in the Takengon coffee region, as well as, providing emergency aid to the most severely affected areas in Aceh Province. Currently the areas identified as having the greatest needs for relief work are in the coastal areas of Banda Aceh in the north and Bireun on the east coast.
Immediate/Emergency Relief Efforts Will Address:

  • Collection and delivery of rice, fresh vegetables, sarongs and blankets for people in Banda Aceh and Bireun where immediate relief needs are the greatest.
  • Provision of temporary shelter to those people who lost their homes in the coffee growing area of Takengon as a result of the earthquakes.
  • The current immediacy is for food, shelter and medicines. When these immediate needs are alleviated, and if resources permit, relief efforts will later expand to include the following activities.
  • Reparation of water systems in coffee growing communities to ensure clean water supplies
  • Reconstruction of homes in Takengon coffee growing communities

ForesTrade's local offices in Indonesia and the U.S. are monitoring the use of donated funds and documenting the results of your support.

The funds used to date, to initiate and mobilize these relief efforts have come from ForesTrade, PPKGO and CV Trimaju, including $11,500 sent by ForesTrade. As donations are received and channeled from Coffee Kids, Café Femenino Foundation and Counterpart International, funds will be used to further support these efforts and increase our ability to reach out and help those in need.

We thank you for all your donations made to the relief efforts, and for your continued support and solidarity with our friends in Sumatra.

About TransFair USA
TransFair USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Through regular visits to Fair Trade farmer cooperatives conducted by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and partnerships with US companies, TransFair verifies that the farmers who produced Fair Trade Certified™ products were paid a fair price.

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