Photo: Partner farmers at the Pangoa Cooperative in Satipo, Peru
Higher Grounds is a proud member-owner of Cooperative Coffees, the world's only fair trade, organic coffee importing cooperative. We buy our coffee through Cooperative Coffees because we believe in the power of cooperation and long-term relationships.
For every pound of coffee we purchase, three cents per pound is collected into Cooperative Coffees' Impact Fund, a pool that is made available to our farming partners for investments in their infrastructure, quality improvement projects, agricultural workshops, technical assistance, farmer-to-farmer training, and more. On April 22, Cooperative Coffees' board of directors approved the allocation of $130K from that fund for immediate COVID relief in coffee farming communities.
PHOTO: Cooperative Coffees' staff and member roasters visit farming partners in Marcala, Honduras in 2019
Producer communities are facing severe challenges with local logistics, mobility and focus, no matter where in the harvest and processing season they are at the moment. Government-led responses have varied widely in coffee producing countries, from early lock-down measures to no plan of action whatsoever. Communication with farmers is ongoing so that we can continue to understand their context and most pressing concerns, and Cooperative Coffees' staff are following up with proposals for immediate emergency measures and relief.
One project now in motion, made possible by these emergency funds, is the procurement of several handwashing stations to be installed at our partner cooperatives’ wet mills (coffee processing facilities) in eastern Congo. On the Ground, our partner nonprofit organization, provided many of these handwashing stations during the most recent Ebola outbreak in DRC, and more will be delivered to communities across the Kivu region in the coming weeks. On the Ground’s DRC program coordinator Herman Chirihimbali Lwango will be coordinating to make this happen as quickly as possible. We all know that washing our hands is our most effective weapon against COVID-19, and this simple act is unfortunately not always easy in rural DRC, where clean water and soap can be scarce.
PHOTO: Herman with handwashing stations ready to be distributed in Minova, DRC
And while we are sad that this year's travel plans to visit our friends around the world are on hold for now, we are proud to belong to our cooperative community, where our close communication and trust allows us to act quickly and support our farming partners through challenges like the coronavirus.