Regional Commodity Programmes
The cocoa programme focused on climate-smart agriculture and promoted the use of ICT to monitor and provide social, environmental and management performance information to farmers. A carbon balance tool was developed for diversified production systems which include cocoa, forest and livestock to monitor the carbon footprint of farmers. A continual improvement methodology for farmers using the Rural Horizon self-assessment tool is being integrated into the programme.
Two flagship projects of Solidaridad´s coffee programme finalized their first phase in 2016: the BACK to REDD+ project in Peru and Colombia and the Sustainable Trade Platform in Colombia. The BACK to REDD+ project proved the feasibility of producing more coffee with a lower environmental footprint. The use of the Cool Farm Tool to measure GHG emissions of production systems moved coffee producers closer to selling carbon credits via Gold Standard verification.
Based on a diagnosis of smallholder cotton production in two traditional cotton regions in Brazil, a successful pilot project was completed with support from the C&A Foundation. Solidaridad developed a model of smallholder cotton production capable of improving the productivity and income of producers, valuing the means of production such as soil, water and inputs. It also integrated systems that are sustainable and resilient to climate change.
Fruit & Vegetables
The main achievement is the development of sector collaboration in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in which Solidaridad played a pivotal role. In addition, the self-assessment tool Rural Horizons was adapted for citrus production together with the producers’ cooperative Citri. 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 expanded its policy work into Bolivia by establishing policy dialogues with federations of small-scale miners and the government. Current policies in Bolivia prevent the broader uptake of responsible practices, so these dialogues are urgently needed. They will have a special focus on formalization and gender. Solidaridad is also developing the PIM online platform for information exchange about small-scale mining in the Andes region, with the near-term goal of including local legislation for Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.
In the Amazon, the region with the world’s largest remaining tropical forest, Solidaridad and its partners initiated the “Program for Promoting Low Carbon Smallholder Business” in the State of Para, with a pilot project in the municipality of Novo Repartimento. In Paraguay, Solidaridad and the Rural Association from Paraguay joined together to engage 287 beef farmers in the Chaco areas with in total 743,814 head of cattle over 965,888 hectares.
Under the Sustainable Trade Platform (STP), an initiative led by Solidaridad in Colombia, producers representing 40% of Colombia’s national palm oil production committed to sustainable production according to the RSPO standard. During the year, 2,575 hectares came under sustainable management and 123,212 tons of palm oil produced by five companies was RSPO certified, of which 23,723 are from a new company certified in 2016.
In the biggest supplying countries of soy in Latin America, a strong focus was put into shifting from direct producer support to landscape and advocacy for change management. Projects showed that given the right incentives, soy producers are willing and able to provide certified soy under the highest requirements, like those in the RTRS Standard. However, what was learned is that the momentum created wasn´t enough to mitigate on-going issues.
By consolidating partnerships with mills and farm associations, Solidaridad is recognized as a respected NGO working in the sugarcane sector in this region.The continual improvement projects designed in partnership with stakeholders have been disseminated far and wide and are starting to deliver results in the field. The programme also expanded to Colombia and now supports 28 mills, two farmer associations (Socicana & Procana) and 2,200 farmers in this region.
Development of a sustainable supply chain for yerba mate started in 2015 and continues to promote the adoption of good agricultural practices for the production of yerba mate. Yerba mate producer support is key to the programme and is achieved through trainings and technical advice to cooperatives. As part of the social scope, Solidaridad also supported small producers to improve their livelihood who were not associated with the cooperative.
The region’s economy shrunk in 2016 due to the combined effects of lower commodity prices, capital flight following the end of the commodity supercycle, heightened volatility in currency markets and severe recessions in Argentina and Brazil.
The Brazilian economic crisis resulted in reduced investments in technical assistance for smallholders and Forest Code enforcement. Deforestation rates also increased and a review of the social and environmental legal framework is being discussed. Brazilian soy, livestock, cotton and citrus sectors showed reluctance to invest in sustainability against the crisis, while cocoa and sugarcane sectors improved.
Delayed peace negotiations with FARC guerrilla froze expected streams of investments, but after a half-century of armed conflicts, the Colombian government finally formalized a historic peace agreement and embarked on new peace talks with rebel group ELN. Disarming and government commitment to invest in areas that were under FARC control create opportunities for rural development. Post-conflict impact on coffee-growing families has been integrated into the Sustainable Trade Agenda.
All countries in South America in which Solidaridad works signed the Paris Climate Agreement on 22 April 2016, with the exception of Ecuador. This provides a favourable framework to work on climate change in the region. International traders have approached Solidaridad expressing their interest in tools such as Rural Horizon to ensure responsible soy production and comply with their deforestation free-commitments.
In 2016, Solidaridad implemented and developed projects in coffee, gold, fruits, palm oil, sugarcane, cotton, cocoa, beef, tea, soybean and flower in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
The Sustainable Trade Platform (STP) brought a total of 91,655 hectares under sustainable management across three sectors including 44,622 hectares in coffee, 38,600 in bananas and 8,433 in oil palm. The STP built the capacity of 65,314 farmers in coffee and 496 in banana. It actively worked with 69 organizations including companies, research centres, producers associations and civil society organizations.
The STP also achieved 140,165 tons of certified/verified coffee,117,839 tons of RSPO certified palm oil (including 23,723 new volumes) and 38 million boxes of certified bananas.
Generational handover, labour scarcity and gender issues - including the support of 244 female coffee producers supported - were integrated into the STP agenda to provide more comprehensive solutions. The gender perspective, already present in the mining programme through the pallaqueras (female miners who crush the leftover rocks of the mining industry), has also been integrated into the new cotton and coffee programmes in Brazil.
In line with its new multiannual strategy, a new portfolio of projects focusing on landscape management and advocacy has been established. These projects will expand on the scale previous work on value chains and commodity sectors.
Better collaboration between governments, CSOs and miners’ associations should render the formalization process more viable for artisanal miners, which is paramount for building fair-mined markets.
Solidaridad continued to work with donors who enable the development of climate-smart and sustainable landscape strategies like Norad, IDH and Good Energies. Partnerships with NGOs such as Imaflora, TNC and ICV provided the perfect complement for developing environmental governance approaches. The Dutch government, which funded the Sustainable Trade Platform in Colombia and several other Solidaridad farmer support projects, is currently funding the development of Solidaridad’s practice and advocacy for change portfolio.
Corporate partners have been key to improving smallholder sustainability by integrating them as suppliers into their certification processes. Solidaridad’s main partners in 2016 were Raízen, Cargill, ADM, Syngenta, Arcor, S&D, FrieslandCampina, Unilever, Cartier, Grupo Hualtaco, DOLE, and Volcafé.
In turn, sector sustainability grew by partnering with small palm oil producer associations such as Asolpalfront and Cordeagropaz, Procaña, Expocafé and Asoexpo in Colombia; Unicoop, ARP and Colonias Unidas in Paraguay; Orplana, AIBA and Amipa in Brazil, Anapo in Bolivia and APPBOSA, APOK, BOSS, Asociación del Valle del Chira in Peru.
The most relevant organizational development during 2016 was the merging of Solidaridad teams from the Andes region (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Northern Bolivia) and former South America region (Brazil, Paraguay, Southern Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay) that started in the last quarter of 2015. One united team will help development work in the whole of South America to be carried out in a more efficient and coordinated way.
The total number of full-time employees in the new South American regional centre was 85.3 in 2016, which was distributed among five country offices in Bogotá, Lima, Sao Paulo, Asunción and Buenos Aires. There were no significant changes in the overall number of personnel in comparison to 2015 (84 FTE), though the Brazilian capacity has been strengthened with 10 new FTE to face the new multiannual cycle.
Also, in response to the increasing need to disseminate results and learnings from projects that are coming to an end and support new ones linked to landscape management and advocacy, two new full-time communication staff were hired in Peru and Brazil. A regional website and social media were launched targeting Spanish-speaking audiences, as well as a LinkedIn page focused on Brazilian news in Portuguese.
Paraguay, Colombia, Peru and Argentina teams developed new capacities to manage continual improvement processes by adapting and adopting the Rural Horizons methodology in their soy, yerba mate, sugarcane and coffee programmes.