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Fair Trade, Eco and Ethical

Bangladesh – famine predicted

The Coronavirus is having terrible effects in some of the poorest parts of the world. In Bangladesh, masses of textile workers have been laid off as 50-75% of factories supplying the world’s fashion industry have closed due to the lockdown. Large retailers have cancelled huge numbers of orders, even those which have been completed and are ready for shipping. Unfortunately the suppliers have no way of holding their customers accountable, and in turn often try to pass the loss on to their workers.

Our suppliers in Bangladesh, Jute Works and Prokritee, both WFTO members, have orders outstanding with us, and our large customer Oxfam has agreed to help out with pre-payments so the orders can go ahead, even if they arrive late because of the crisis. This is a great example of customers and suppliers in the Fair Trade community working together to ensure that as little harm to producers takes place as possible. Prokritee reports that none of their customers have cancelled their orders, and many of their artisans are working at home, praying to God that the crisis will end soon, but glad that at least they have work. Prokritee is distributing Hardship Grant packages including masks, soap and cash, for any of their artisans who are unable to work.

Prokritee is a new supplier for us and from August, we will be selling a range of their handmade giftwrap.

Prokritee – handmade paper production

Prokritee – marbled handmade paper giftwrap

Below: Artisans in Bangladesh give us an update on oncoronavirus and working from home

Jute Works reported in late April, “our artisans are not infected but we are at high risk. The main problems are people’s awareness and poor medical facilities. The whole country is in an alarming situation and the infection rate is increasing rapidly. So staying at home is the only way to save us. We all very much hope the community can work together to combat the challenges created by the Coronavirus.” Ten days later they reported that food reserves were running low, and their staff are voluntarily contributing part of their wages to piece rate workers, who now have no income. Jute Works has also been handing out food parcels to artisans in the Dhaka slums and the Mirpur Refugee camp.

Now, in mid-May, Bertha, Director of Jute Works, is predicting a famine: “Most slum-dwellers are not worried about the virus but about hunger as they cannot go to work. They do not have food reserves and what little they have cannot save them from starvation and famine in the coming days.

Jute Works – making clothing at home during the lockdown

Jute Works – food aid, Dhaka

Jute Works – food aid, Dhaka

Food prices have gone up by as much as 30 to 40%. For people living on the poverty line, it’s really tough for them to survive. In Bangladesh there are 40 million people without sufficient food; Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns will add another 20 million. Most villagers rely on remittances from the cities or abroad. But because of this crisis, people everywhere are out of work. Income has stopped. How do you stock up on 30-day supplies when you can only buy a few days’ worth of food? What will you do after that food runs out if your income has been cut off?

Farmers cannot sell their produce due to transport and regional lockdown. Moreover, although some people can still work at home, production capacity is shrinking due to shortage of raw materials supply. After the pandemic the country is expecting a famine.”

We can’t help everyone in the world but we urge you to support the people of Bangladesh by buying their products. It’s lack of income, not shortage of food, which causes famine and every product you buy will create further income for the Bangladeshi people.

Created On  18 May 2020 18:50 in Coronavirus  -  >>


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