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Tsunami Tragedy

December’s Southeast Asia Tsunami is being described as one of the worst human tragedies in the history of mankind, and unfortunately, rightfully so. Nature has once again reminded our industry, and us, of the fragility of life. While coffee and tea areas were not severely affected, because both these commodities are grown in high altitudes, nevertheless, roads are blocked and damaged, and reconstruction is delayed as the most urgent health and safety matters are first dealt with.

TransFair USA has been in contact with numerous partner organizations to gather updates regarding export transportation delays and other information about how the communities have been affected:

“In Indonesia, the tsunami devastated parts of the west and east coasts of Sumatra, one of the top five coffee producing countries in the world. Coffee producers live in Aceh, near the reported epicenter of the quake. At least two families in the co-op PPKGO were killed when their homes collapsed. Many roads used to transport coffee from growers to the ports were blocked. The wet mill, used to process coffee for export, sustained damage.

“In India, Most report no physical damage to the gardens, but shipments are delayed. The two most affected states in India, according to producers, are Tamilnadu and Kerala. In Sri Lanka, farmers were not directly affected but there are delays in exporting shipments.”

Will this affect our industries - absolutely! Will this natural disaster provide employment opportunities for farmers and pickers? Will they make more money leaving the gardens to help rebuild towns? Will we lose our pickers and then will we lose our distinguished varietals? We will just have to wait and see, and hope for the best.

Thanks to Fair Trade and the SCAA, we have collected a small list of producer partner group web sites where those who want to help can make donations directly to Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia:

* Coffee Kids and ForesTrade: Contributions to the Sumatra Relief Fund will benefit coffee farming families in the heavily affected area of Aceh.Funds are being sent to the PPKGO cooperative. www.coffeekids.org

* Oxfam America is providing clean water, food, temporary shelter, and sanitation facilities to affected areas of India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. www.oxfamamerica.org

* The Café Femenino Foundation is receiving funds to provide food, medical assistance, and infrastructure repairs in affected areas of Sumatra. www.optco.com/Cafe_Fem/CF_Foundation_Sumatra.html

* TransFair USA is also able to channel donations to specific Fair Trade groups in the affected areas. Send checks payable to TransFair USA and earmarked Tsunami / (name of group).

* The Take Me 2 Tea Expo and the Tea Council of the USA have organized relief funds to be forwarded to the countries affected. The Tea Board’s of Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia will be consulted to select the best agency to receive the funds. Take Me 2 Tea and the Tea Council will match up to $5,000 in total contributions. To make a donation, please send a check to: Take Me 2 Tea Expo, Tsunami Relief Fund, 5125 W. Oquendo Rd. #14, Las Vegas, NV, 89118

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - January/February, 2005

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