Corona virus (COVID-19) brings a double burden to cocoa farmers.
In early April, Antonie Fountain, Friedel Hütz-Adams and I worked from three key reasons for cacao and chocolate industry to respond directly to the COVID-19 cocoa farmer impact. It is published directly on the VOICEnetwork website here:
1 Producing countries of cacao are not prepared for COVID-19
No countries were at operational readiness in African and South-East Asian regions (1) for COVID-19. Operational readiness defined in short by the WHO; Prevent (infection prevention), detect (early warning, respond (what to do if suspect outbreak on farm/cooperation), enable (funds and skillsets – village health professionals).
1. Cacao farmers already suffer from poor health, and are in an ultra-vulnerable situation with COVID-19
2. Cacao and Chocolate industry should act
3. Call to action with VOICE network
4. Interview on the topic:
WKND Chocolate with Lauren Heineck a 20 minute interview outlining the key messages
2 Procedural support for managing COVID-19 is required
There are various organizations working collaboratively in Africa, AFTCOR, Africa CDC, and WHO to build testing capacity (only 2 African countries had COVID testing capacity), however, countries will need help with proper quarantine and infection control protocols, including procedures for implementing social distancing (mass gathering and potential closure of facilities) (2). This directly impacts the role of COVID-19 and cocoa farmers.
3 Cacao farmers have high degrees of pre-existing respiratory conditions
Evidence from Indonesia demonstrates that between 10-16% of farmers experience coughing, chest pain or difficulty in breathing generally (3) , anecdotal evidence from UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire is that farmer’s top two ailments are malaria and pneumonia. Fever and cough were the two main reasons for seeking health care for males in Bougainville (PNG) research (4). Around the world, cacao farmers lungs and other pre-existing health care conditions (5) (6) (7) (8) make them vulnerable to COVID-19 and this is combined with lack of access to general health care (9) (10) (11), let alone pandemic-health care (12).
As the SARSCoV2 is global, and so is the chocolate industry, now is the time to demonstrate how a globalized network of capacity and support can be of use (13) (14).
Follow our work regarding the call to action here.
More links to look at:
Lauren runs this podcast, Well Tempered, which focuses on women in cacao and chocolate. And she also writes this blog WKND Chocolate about her adventures in and around chocolate experiences she creates herself.
I strongly recommend this interview with Dr Carla Martin from the FCCI about the flash poll results conducted with n=159 small producer organisations around the world and the impact that COVID-19 and physical distancing has had on their farming, and trading. More about Carla and the FCCI here; and be in touch here.
If you have something to contribute to this article, please contact us here:
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