Fruit & Vegetables

Thinking locally brings the global market closer to home

Strengthening food production and distribution systems for local markets is becoming increasingly important. Solidaridad is developing a portfolio of food security-related projects, including fruit and vegetables in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique and Ghana. In some cases, export crops are an enabler for farmers to improve their food crops. The food security programme in Kenya and Ethiopia, with Nestlé and Ecom as contributing partners, is an example of this approach, which aims to reach 120,000 farmers.

Number of farmers and workers supported


Total hectares under sustainable management



Fruit juice

A coalition has been formed with the major players in the Brazilian fruit juice sector for working toward sustainable citrus production. The initiative started as a collaboration between Solidaridad and Friesland Campina Riedel. Together with the producers’ cooperative Citri, the self-assessment tool Rural Horizons was adapted for citrus production. Sector engagement with brands on the market side and farmers and producers on the supply side led to the development of a plan to support 4,400 farmers who produce 10% of the world’s orange juice. Solidaridad has also launched programmes in India and South Africa.


Solidaridad is involved in the steering and governance of the World Banana Forum. The WBF is a community of change that aims to improve the sustainability of the sector. Solidaridad is leading a programme to improve health and safety in banana production in Ecuador and Cameroon, in partnership with WBF, banana companies and retailers. We also played a leading role in developing national sector platforms in Peru and Colombia. Solidaridad is working to prevent the spread of Panama disease, particularly in Colombia.

Horticulture for food security

New projects have been developed in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa, while the implementation of existing programmes in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana has continued. The programme in Bangladesh has reached more than 20,000 horticulture farmers, 70% of whom adopted new technologies. Yields increased by 10% to 30%, while farm incomes increased by 16% on average.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Andes

    The banana sector platform supported by Solidaridad is bringing workable solutions to the widespread problem of plastic contamination in the Chira valley. This is necessary due to the absence of a suitable system for the disposal of the millions of plastic bags used to protect the banana bunches. A private initiative is now recycling 20% of the plastic waste. Its ambition is to recycle 50% of all plastics used in the banana region by next year.

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  • East & Central Africa

    Solidaridad East & Central Africa has worked on innovations to support farmers in improving fruit and vegetable (F&V) production by targeting greater diversity, food safety and reduced food loss. The interventions such as market linkages and certification have improved the availability of healthy products and linking farmers to premium and sustainable markets. Concerted efforts have been placed on improved access and influencing policies that affect safe food both at local and regional level.

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  • The Netherlands

    In 2014 Solidaridad and FrieslandCampina Riedel launched a programme in Brazil to promote sustainability throughout the orange sector. Besides field activities, one of the main priorities was to engage all relevant sector players. Two years later, the first concrete step towards a sector-wide coalition has been taken with the development of a proposal to support 4400 producers in Brazil to move towards more sustainable production. Together they represent between 15 and 20% of orange concentrate production globally.

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  • South America

    The implementation of Solidaridad’s five-year project with Friesland Campina in the main citrus production area in Brazil aims at reducing the ever increasing number of small producers leaving the business due to the sector’s crisis. A sustainable approach to orange production will not only reduce liabilities from a social, economic and environmental standpoint, but also improve the quality of life of people working in this field.

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  • Southern Africa

    Solidaridad’s horticulture programme was formally established in January 2015 and a sector strategy was completed by October 2015 in line with the global multi-annual strategic plan. The overall focus of the strategy is to assist in the upskilling and commercialization of smallholder producers in the horticulture sector in Southern Africa. Solidaridad seeks to improve local and regional market integration and coordination along the horticulture value chain.

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Fruit juice

Sustainability is becoming more prominent on the agenda of the sector. New initiatives are gaining momentum. Solidaridad has played a pivotal role in this through our partnership with Friesland Campina Riedel. Close collaboration with a front-running company has proven to be an effective strategy, enabling Solidaridad to develop a coalition of leading companies with a stake in the Brazilian fruit juice sector to work on sustainable citrus farming.


The global banana business is characterized by single variety monocropping. The sector is currently struggling with the threat of Panama disease, Tropical Race 4 (TR4). The TR4 fungus has severely damaged banana plantations in South-East Asia. Recently, it has reportedly spread beyond Asia to Mozambique and Jordan. This type of fungus infects the Cavendish banana varieties, which dominate global trade but are also important for domestic markets and other cultivars used for local consumption and marketing. It has been historically proven that the Panama disease can significantly affect livelihoods and food security by reducing productivity, income, employment and government revenues in many tropical countries. Solidaridad is working closely with the World Banana Forum to address these challenges.

Horticulture for food security

Fruit and vegetable consumption in developing countries is growing much faster than in developed countries due to population growth and increased consumption per capita. The rise in demand is mainly from the growing cities. Production for national markets is increasing, but cannot always keep up with the pace of demand growth.

Programme investments in thousand euros


Contracted partners per region excluding producer organizations



Fruit juice

Our partnership with Friesland Campina Riedel (FCR) has been very successful, allowing us to develop the collaboration with SAI platform and with the European Fruit Juice Association AIJN. Leading global brands such as Coca Cola and Pepsi are now collaborating to roll out our initiative in Brazil.


Through the World Banana Forum, we are collaborating with leading producer companies such as Chiquita, Dole and Fyffes as well as retailers like Tesco and Asda, who are partners in our health and safety initiative for the banana sector. IDH is co-funding this programme. We are also working with the Ecuadorian government to develop a national curriculum for health and safety in the sector.

Horticulture for food security

Nestlé is an important contributing partner in the food security programme in Kenya and Ethiopia. The programme works with farmers who grow coffee as their main cash crop and has huge potential for improving their production for the local market. There are also important partners at the local level in these programmes, such as in Bangladesh, where we are collaborating with ACI Seed Ltd and the Department of Agricultural Extension to develop the tomato supply chain. In South Africa, we initiated collaboration with the Spar retail chain. Funding for the horticulture for food security programmes is provided by Dutch embassies in Bangladesh and Ghana and by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) for Kenya and Ethiopia.


In general, fruit and vegetable production and supply chains focused on local markets are less formal, smaller in size, more fragmented and less efficient than production focused on exports. Phytosanitary regulations and controls are often very limited, exposing consumers to health risks. Post-harvest losses are huge because of a lack of infrastructure, limited knowledge and weak organization in the chain.

Each subsector in each country has its own challenges. The Peruvian banana sector has issues with water supply and soil deterioration, while in Ecuador the sector is facing the consequences of the use of pesticides. Orange growers in Brazil have to comply with strict Brazilian laws while also preventing and combatting Greening disease in a sustainable way. Small horticulture farmers in countries such as Kenya and Bangladesh are struggling to survive.

The challenge for Solidaridad is to work toward systemic change in selected subsectors in targeted countries. We aim to work on the level of national subsectors while having boots on the ground in specific projects. Collaboration with international businesses will support developments at the national level. Brazilian experiences with the citrus sector are a good example of the potential of such an approach. Solidaridad will also strengthen its collaboration with the agro-input sector. Companies that provide seeds, fertilizers and disease control solutions can potentially make a great contribution to the solutions we are working toward.

Jeroen Kroezen

International Programme Coordinator, Fruit & Vegetables