The Top Ten Impacts of Climate Change on Fairtrade Farmers

Welcome to Fairtrade Fortnight, a time to celebrate and champion the importance of fair-trade practices. At The Ethical Giftbox, we wholeheartedly support fair-trade and utilise our platform to raise awareness about the significance of purchasing fair-trade products. We have already highlighted why it is important to buy fair-trade products.

This year, Fairtrade Fortnight sheds light on the profound impact of climate change on farmers and communities, particularly in vulnerable regions. Climate change stands as one of the greatest challenges faced by fair-trade farmers today, as its consequences ripple through their livelihoods and well-being.

To contribute to this important focus, we have compiled a list of the top ten direct impacts of climate breakdown on fair-trade farmers. From declining yields to the economic repercussions, these effects highlight the urgency of addressing climate change and fostering sustainable solutions.

This is so important because 80% of the world’s food comes from 500 million small-scale farmers. If they suffer, we all suffer.

1. Declining yields Declining yields due to excessive heat has meant farmers reporting they don’t have enough food to feed themselves and their families. As if this weren’t bad enough, some of the World’s most popular food and drink items such as coffee, chocolate and wine are all experiencing lower yields because of adverse weather conditions exacerbated by climate change. (2)

2. Livelihoods destroyed Farmers in the Global South rely on the land they farm for their livelihoods and often have lower resilience to face the negative impacts of climate change due to low incomes. (2)

3. Diseased crops Climate change increases fluctuations in weather conditions. Periods of excessive rain or excessively high temperatures make crops more susceptible to rot and disease. Diseases such as leaf rust or ‘coffee rust’ a parasitic fungus that causes plants to have decreased growth, is becoming more common. (2)

4. Loss of workers Young people are turning away from farming because it’s no longer profitable. Research highlights that young people in farming communities often witness their parent’s ‘desperate struggle to earn a living through farming and they do not want this life for themselves. (3)

5. Sea water contamination As sea levels rise, flooding has become more frequent for farms in coastal regions, these floods devastate crops, accelerate soil erosion, pollute water and damage vital infrastructure. (4)

6. Increases of extreme weather events. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have devastating consequences for farmers. For example, in Nicaragua, category 5 hurricane Lota hit in November 2020. It was the strongest hurricane to hit since their records began and occurred only two weeks apart from hurricane Eta, the flooding that ensued devastated crops. (5)

7. Costs involved with switching to low carbon production and transport. When many farmers don’t even have a living income or living wage, it is almost impossible for them to absorb the costs involved with switching to more sustainable methods of production, although these methods are increasingly necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change. (5)

8. Changes in crop viability Farmers choose crop varieties that are well suited to local conditions. As those conditions shift rapidly many farmers will have to rethink what they grow. Moving to other crops takes time and involves training and costs. (4)

9. The economic impact of climate change As production decreases this affects the economy. People harvest less and receive less      money. The negative consequences of climate breakdown impacts the environment and the economy. (2)

10. Farmers are experiencing the worst effects of climate change Fairtrade highlights that Fairtrade farmers are among the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis – but are already feeling the worst effects. For example, twenty one people from Cote d’Ivoire have the same carbon footprint as one person in the UK, but studies have shown that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change. (1)

So what can we do to help?

Join the campaign 

Sign up and join the fair-trade fight against the climate crisis.  Choosing to back Fairtrade is one way we can stand with those vulnerable communities on the front line of the climate crisis.

Buy environmentally friendly products

It is important that as consumers we exercise our choice in climate friendly ways. That means that we ought to buy less, but also buy better. Brands such as Tony’s Chocolonely are partnered with fair-trade farmers and have a mission to make the chocolate industry slave free. So when you’re out shopping look for the fair-trade label and know that you’re supporting farmers and workers to protect themselves against the climate crisis. (1) Find out more information on fair-trade products.

Host a virtual film night

Fairtrade have a wide selection of films available on their youtube channel that cover the challenges faced by fair-trade farmers. You could host a virtual film night with friends, family or community groups and stream a selection of these films to raise awareness of the issues and explore solutions. 

And many more...

There are many more ways that you can get involved from organising fundraisers to joining one of Fairtrades many campaigns. Whatever you choose to do, we hope this blog post has inspired you to do something.

                                  ‘In winter’s chill and Summer’s heat….

                                  A farmer works so the world can eat’



Notes: -Fairtrade and climate justice climate change

Oxfam- Who wants to be a farmer? Climate change and agriculture The impact of Hurricane Eta and Lota on Fairtrade producers and workers Highlighting the need for climate justice in a year dominated by covid-19.

*Note: Top ten impacts are not in order of significance.

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