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Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the Mexican sugarcane sector

Bonsucro, our partner in global sustainability, takes action to keep sugarcane farmers healthy.

With their deep relationships in the sector, Bonsucro, the platform for sustainable sugar cane, found themselves in a unique position to respond rapidly to a health crisis in Mexico brought about by COVID-19. And they did.

A recent communication from Bonsucro tells the story of how they gathered multi-stakeholders together to alleviate a critical and urgent problem.

At the beginning of March, many cases of COVID-19 were identified in several Latin American countries, including Mexico. The arrival of the disease represented a new and enormous challenge for the care of health and safety for those working in agriculture.

There was a lack of efficient protocols in workplaces as well as little infrastructure and trained personnel in rural communities to face the emergency. By mid-June the virus was already spreading in agricultural and sugarcane communities. Given the imminent start of harvesting activities at the end of the year, the health risks of migrant and seasonal workers became clear.

To contribute efforts to the fight against COVID-19, among sugarcane workers in Mexico, Bonsucro, La Isla Network, Ingenio San Antonio de Nicaragua and the Campos de Esperanza programme of World Vision Mexico, which is funded by the US Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), joined forces to create training materials to prevent COVID-19 in sugarcane fields.

This powerful collaboration created of a series of resources for sugar mills and sugarcane farms in Mexico to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. In addition, there are two guides to help increase the capabilities of those managing groups of workers. The resources were launched through a series of online training sessions for the whole Mexican sugar sector attended by more than 400 people.

The project was designed and rolled out quickly in response to the pandemic. Each organisation made its expertise available.

World Vision used its close connection with workers, farmers, and factories in Mexico to implement Health and Safety Occupational (OSH) plans. The team also obtained key information from the fields to advise the sector on child labour and OSH.

Ingenio San Antonio (ISA) developed a robust OSH programme to prevent COVID-19 and chronic kidney disease as non-traditional origin (CKDnt) among its field workers. The mill is committed to sharing its experience and achievements. Denis Chavarría from ISA brought lessons learned from his efforts to address COVID-19 in Nicaragua.

The development of these materials was led by Campos de Esperanza in a participatory process with different actors of the Mexican industry including producer organizations as the farming associations, CNPR and UNPCA, Mexican mills, the National Committee for Sustainable Development for Sugar Cane (CONADESUCA) and the national chamber of the sugar industry (CNIAA).

Bonsucro provided the global platform to engage stakeholders from across the sugar value chain and share the resources.

The supply of sugar in the US requires a healthy and safe work force in both the field and in the factory. If you would like to become a partner in supporting global sustainability efforts by sourcing Bonsucro or Fair Trade Certified sugar, the Sugaright team welcomes the opportunity to start a conversation. Contact us to find out more.


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