FAO forestry newsroom
Forest producer organizations stepping up during COVID-19
©FAO/Sophie Grouwels13 May 2020, Rome - Forest and farmer producer organizations (FFPOs) are stepping up emergency responses to help millions of rural small-scale producers during the COVID-19 crisis as it disrupts lives and livelihoods worldwide.
As supply chains collapse and people fleeing from cities to rural areas increase pressure on resources, rural producers provide concrete solutions in the face of the current pandemic. FFPOs are helping to engage returnees and youth to use their urban market knowledge to develop new opportunities to stay on in productive roles.
“Forest and farmer producer organizations are able to provide immediate emergency responses to COVID-19 for their members, particularly in the areas of information sharing and crisis service provision,” said FAO’s Jeffrey Campbell, Manager of the Forest and Farm Facility. “Often, FFPOs provide the only organized response to local needs in times of crisis, particularly for the most vulnerable.” For example, the Federation of Community Forest Users of Nepal has been providing premises for quarantine and self-isolation, and distributing food supplies, masks, hand sanitizer and soap to the poor, indigenous peoples and under privileged users.
Some FFPOs have been using their extensive membership base and reach to support national social protection programmes. The Viet Nam Farmer's Union is supporting vulnerable socio-economic groups and farmers to connect them with government support programs and in accessing loans with low or without interest.
FFPOs have also been disseminating critical information in local languages to vulnerable communities. In Ecuador, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon is serving as a primary communication channel for COVID -19 health and hygiene practices.
While the crisis increased burden on women and gender-based violence, FFPOs enhance gender equality and maintain social integrity. In Zambia, the Cotton Association Zambia (CAZ) is taking measures to ensure that gender equality is observed and applied during the pandemic.
FFPOs have been improving access to their own social protection services for vulnerable groups, offering support for unpaid care by women, addressing constraints for workers in the informal sector and helping people returning to rural communities. In Ghana, the Community Action in Development and Research (CADER) is supporting communities with sources of water for women farmers to engage in dry season farming as an income.
The Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) – a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and AgriCord – is helping FFPOs to document and share best practices arising from their emergency response to COVID-19.
The FFF is also supporting FFPOs to engage young people in COVID-19 communication campaigns, involve women in planning and implementation of COVID-19 responses, and create e-commerce and delivery mechanisms that allow FFPOs to trade and develop new market opportunities in the face of social distancing.
“FFPOs are ideally placed to offer grounded solutions for resilience in building back better, securing landscape-based production systems and introducing innovative solutions that will be necessary in the post-COVID-19 world, ” said Campbell.
For more information, visit the Forest and Farm Facility’s COVID-19 webpage.