Solidaridad has continued to work with the multi-stakeholder platform in northern Peru’s banana sector. Because the sector is relatively young, infrastructure, knowledge and services were limited. This collaborative approach allowed Solidaridad experts to share best practices, improve water management and introduce technically advanced irrigation methods with the support of an impact investor. A collective plastic waste valorization project was also implemented.
Together with the World Banana Forum, Solidaridad developed a manual for health and safety of banana farmers and workers in Ecuador. The manual is endorsed by the government and the exporters’ association AEBE and was launched at the World Banana Forum’s conference in Geneva.
In Brazil, developed a digital tool for citrus farmers that enables them to carry out self-assessments, compare their performance with their peers and receive suggestions for improvement.
The SAFAL project (Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages) in Bangladesh organized 57,000 farmers into 1,000 producer groups and supported them through training and better access to seeds. This, in turn, improved access to technology and connections with national retail markets in Dhaka. SAFAL formed Union-level Business Associations (UBAs) to develop stronger links and promote entrepreneurship. Yields in horticulture increased by 18% and farmers’ incomes increased by an average 16%. SAFAL is organizing pot-songs and street dramas to develop knowledge and awareness and promote nutrient-rich diets, as well as improving health and hygiene.
Solidaridad launched a major horticulture project in Southern Africa to improve market readiness and integrate supply chains. The creation of smallholder farmers clusters with direct linkage to private partners is key to this programme.
In Kenya, Solidaridad manages the Food for All project in collaboration with the fresh produce company Meru Greens. Combining education with market linkages gives farmers a route out of poverty, while training in farming techniques and market opportunities means they can expand their yields significantly. The project aims to improve the livelihoods and resilience of 48,500 households in five counties in the eastern region of Kenya, benefiting some 242,500 people.
These results demonstrate that Solidaridad’s focus is shifting from building international supply chains towards sector development, in which the local market is often paramount. These projects contribute towards improving food security in individual countries.
Regional Commodity Programmes
East & Central Africa
Solidaridad supported 11,500 fresh vegetable farmers to supply 2,160 metric tonnes of fresh beans valued at 864,724 euro at farm gate. From this, a total of 1,527 metric tonnes were exported to Germany and France. In addition, a total of 5,300 farmers sold bananas, watermelons, onions, tomatoes, capsicums and butternuts at local supermarkets.
In Peru, after three years of receiving technical support to improve the skills of organic banana family producers, productivity increased by 83%. This was despite severe weather and water shortages. In Brazil, the Solidaridad toolkit for continual improvement in citrus was benchmarked against the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform. This will allow producers to assess their performance against several standards with just one questionnaire. It will also increase cost-efficiency in technical assistance from 2018 onwards.
South & South-east Asia
The Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages Programme supported 11,752 farmers achieve greater levels of productivity through the adoption of sustainable technologies. Horticulture farmers took various measures to minimize post-harvest losses for vegetable production such as harvesting at a maturing stage, post-harvest handling, sorting and grading. Input costs for chemical fertilizer and pesticide use have reduced. The programme supported the establishment of 12 vegetable collection centres where 3,000 farmers are able to sell their produce.
The availability of healthy and safe food, including fruit and vegetables, will be crucial.
Solidaridad is focussing on developing a strong agri-service sector in selected countries that enables emerging entrepreneurial F&V farmers and their organizations to thrive. An important intervention is the creation of smallholder farming clusters with a direct link to private partners such as supermarkets. Clustering smallholder farmers facilitates economies of scale, while in the agricultural sector clustering has many benefits, such as creating an enabling environment for cooperation, facilitating access to new innovations, and channelling public support to increase the competitiveness of non-commercialized farmers.
The Dutch government is the main donor for Solidaridad’s F&V programmes. Funding is distributed through the Dutch embassy in Bangladesh, through RVO for Kenya and Ethiopia, through the Advocacy for Change and Practice for Change programmes funded by DGIS, and through IDH for the banana programme in Ecuador and Cameroon. Most programmes also receive substantial match funding from the private sector.
In the banana sector, Solidaridad works with the World Banana Forum, which represents banana companies, retailers, farmers, unions and CSOs. This collaboration has led to projects in Ecuador and Cameroon among others.
In the fruit juice sector, Solidaridad’s main private sector partner is Riedel, with whom it collaborates in the European Fruit Juice Association AIJN and participates in the fruit juice CSR platform. Projects in the citrus sector in Brazil and the mango sector in India are a result of this collaboration.
In Solidaridad’s F&V projects focusing on local markets, the organization maintains a range of partners including input suppliers, governmental institutes, buyers and local retailers.
Local markets have become increasingly important in the F&V sector in recent years. Solidaridad is responding to this trend by prioritizing national sector development in its strategy. Production and supply chains can thrive through sound sector development in their home country. This will generate a solid farmer base and effective supply chains, which are essential to feed growing urban populations.
Various market segments can be identified within F&V, all of which have increased quality and phytosanitary requirements: rural markets, informal urban markets, the market for F&V processing, formal urban markets, international markets with a presence in the region, global markets and high-end premium markets (western retail).
Solidaridad is carefully analyzing which farmers are best suited to each market segment. A stepping-stone model allows farmers to access higher-value markets over time. Market engagement in different segments to create buying commitments from value chain partners is part of Solidaridad’s work, as well as aligning national and international phytosanitary and sustainability requirements to enable farmers to progress.
Solidaridad is learning from the experience of its successes in F&V in countries such as Bangladesh, Peru and Kenya, so it can have a similar impact elsewhere. One important lesson is the synergy between different market segments. Farmers that are not “market ready” for the local urban market will certainly not be ready for export markets. Smart market segmentation and matching farmers to appropriate market segments are key and this is precisely what Solidaridad is trying to do, for example, in the horticulture project in Southern Africa.