The photos above were taken by Fairtrade staff during a field visit to the Philippines in September. The 46 members of the Patag Farmers Integrated Social Forestry Association were on track to become Fairtrade certified for their lettuce, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. That was until the typhoon Haiyan hit.
According to Stephan Kunz, who works for the AFOS Foundation and has also been supporting Fairtrade efforts there, the devastation in the country is immeasurable. Typhoon winds tracked over 300 km/hour and even permanent homes were razed to the ground.
The members of the Patag Farmers group were among the thousands of people affected. The storm wiped out their entire harvest. Many of them lost homes. Some even lost family members. But they plan to continue.
“The farmers there will not give up their livelihood so easily. They are strong, and although due to the storm they have almost nothing to share with their neighbors, they are doing their best to provide for those in need,” said Hagung Hendrawan a Regional Coordinator for Fairtrade International based in the field. “Families are working hand in hand to build temporary shelters, collect food, and cook. Any support we can offer will foster the recovery process.”
The AFOS Foundation is collecting funds to help with the recovery efforts. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
You can also donate to general relief efforts through Oxfam here.
There are three other Fairtrade small producer organizations in the Philippines. Most of their members were only minorly affected by the storm. The groups are now collecting emergency aid to help in the relief efforts.