Regional Commodity Programmes
The Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages Programme increased the competitiveness of 28,702 aquaculture farmers to supply to domestic and international markets. Aquaculture farmers have earned more income through increased production while decreasing production cost. Across all selected species, the average yield per hectare has increased by 42%. This programme also supported the establishment of five aquaculture collection centres in which 2,576 farmers from 73 producer groups are able to sell their produce.
The Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages Programme supported 18,263 smallholders to improve farm productivity and supply quality milk through the adoption of sustainable practices. Dairy farmers reduced farming costs while increasing their income through selling more milk at a higher price. Alongside dairy farmers, a number of community members have started fodder production as a means of income. The programme has also established five fodder markets in the Narail and Jessore districts.
Fruit & Vegetables
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.
Solidaridad, in collaboration with Unilever, mineral extraction experts, civil society organizations, and extraction companies and suppliers, developed one of the first independently auditable codes for extraction sites: the Code for Responsible Extraction. This code offers a globally acceptable and credible assurance that industrial minerals have been extracted in a responsible way. Compliance enables improved operational efficiency for extractors, access to high-value markets, easier compliance with various legislations, improved risk management and enhanced trust.
Solidaridad worked within the leather sector to build strong stakeholder engagement. Government representatives, local water regulatory authorities, tannery associations and leading leather chemical suppliers aligned on the Five-Year Tannery Project for Clean Ganga. Solidaridad facilitated the installation of real-time water meters in 50 small-scale tanneries, established a pilot project on electro-oxidation-based wastewater treatment, and established a pilot on effluent treatment through bioremediation. Throughout the year, tannery associations were consulted on improved eco-friendly technologies.
In Indonesia, Solidaridad supported farmers to sustainably manage oil palm farms. A total of 1,885 farmers were trained in good agricultural practices, 1,891 farmers were trained in financial literacy and 7,354 hectares of land, owned by 2,726 smallholders, was mapped. Solidaridad received a letter of support from the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs as its preferred partner. India’s Palm Oil Sustainability Framework was launched to promote sustainable and robust edible oil industries and trade.
Soy plays a valuable role as a source of food and nutrition, significantly contributes to income, and is resilient to climate change. In India, Solidaridad’s decade-long experience of successfully supporting large numbers of smallholders is instrumental for the inclusion of soy in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Solidaridad is building on its strength through strategically engaging with regional and national businesses, governments, relevant associations and platforms to improve sustainability performances through efficient, “beyond certification” market-based solutions.
The sugarcane programme continued to build on an aligned agenda driven by a strong business case for producers, processors and end users. The programme allows buyers to move beyond their immediate supply chain and diversify their base of sustainable suppliers. It addresses environmental, economic and social challenges of cane growers by building their capacity. It promotes the adoption of good agricultural practices and water management including irrigation and flooding techniques at a grower level.
Trustea, the India sustainable tea programme, completed its third successful year with significant milestones being achieved. The Trustea programme emerged as the largest tea code for sustainability by transforming 36% of India’s tea production.
The Partnership for Cleaner Textiles programme achieved a water savings of 21.6 billion litres. With improved processes and chemical inputs, a total of 18.8 billion litres of wastewater was avoided. The Social Development Department programme under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Netherlands complemented work at the supplier level by providing tools to embed training on social dialogue in technical and vocational education, as well as training policies for the garment and textile sector.
Producing more food, feed, fibre and fuel from agriculture with fewer natural resources to meet ever-rising demand is a key challenge for Asia. Pressure on land, water and forests is increasing. In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to stop using palm oil for biofuel.
Indonesia, the world's biggest producer of palm oil, is currently pushing for increased domestic consumption of biodiesel through a policy that calls for a minimum of bio-based products, or palm oil, in the content of 30% of all diesel sold by 2020. This is an increase from the current requirement of 20%. If achieved, Indonesia's annual biodiesel consumption will rise to 18.6 million tons.
China has begun discussions with Indonesia and Malaysia to boost its blending target to a minimum of 5% of palm oil in biodiesel. India's palm oil consumption as edible oil is also increasing rapidly. As the expansion of the palm oil sector contributes significantly to climate change, primarily due to its impact on peat and forest ecosystems, it is important that further expansions take place in a sustainable manner.
Markets are demanding that suppliers provide certified, traceable and deforestation-free palm oil. Certification to a large extent has not been able to address the issues of deforestation, reduced availability of water and land, or low income of farmers. Therefore, Solidaridad is advocating for three strategic pillars. 1) Local ownership of sustainability discourse 2) Focus on impact rather than compliance 3) Finding a balanced approach between social, economic and environmental priorities of stakeholders in Asia.
Solidaridad promoted the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices across 380,000 hectares of land across the region and this led to an overall decrease in the use chemicals. The Indian government endorsed initiatives led by Solidaridad such as the India Palm Oil Sustainability Framework and Trustea, an Indian national sustainability standard. In 2017, Trustea certified 281,000 hectares of land under tea cultivation.
Through interventions such as drip irrigation, trash mulching, use of biocontrols, and proper land preparation, 27 billion litres of water was saved in the sugar programme in the region. This programme also demonstrated that better agri-techniques can avoid the use of 5 billion litres of water. A landscape approach to resolve the Mid-Gangetic Plains pollution was achieved through the successful formation of a multi-stakeholder platform. This involves a five-year tannery project to clean the Ganges River. In 2017, many leather industries joined this platform with a commitment to reduce the discharge of untreated effluents.
A total of 390,000 smallholders were the drivers of change with Solidaridad facilitating actions and rewriting the script for smallholders in terms of productivity
A total of 740 hectares of forest was mapped and pledged for conservation in Indonesia. Across multiple commodities, farmers experienced production increases from 15% in sugar to 50% in soy. For the first the time in a decade, mango farmers in Bangladesh were able to export pest and chemical-free mangoes. Through an innovative mobilization strategy, Solidaridad trained 21,989 women to build their capacity in agriculture and entrepreneurship
In 2017, Solidaridad implemented programmes in partnership with private partners, civil society organizations, research institutions, financial institutions, government bodies, industry associations and donor bodies. Collaborations with each of the partners were aimed at bringing a change in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and industry workers through sustainable management of resources.
Solidaridad’s partnership with the International Finance Corporation continues to be the most influential, especially in sugar and the formulation of a National Sugar Code. The private partnerships with companies like DCM Shriram, Vippy Industries in India and Agora in Bangladesh is continuing.
New Partnerships with STAHL, PUM and Leather Industry Association like UPLIA and STA were formed. These partnerships are geared towards influencing policy for the adoption of safe and clean technologies in leather.
Solidaridad also facilitated a number of multi-stakeholder initiatives for discussing public and corporate policies in Asia to promote sustainable practices and investments in commodities like tea, palm oil, textiles, etc.
Solidaridad’s operation in South and South-East Asia continues to grow. In 2017, Solidaridad in Asia was operating in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Israel with 226 staff members. The number of offices increased from 14 to 23. Solidaridad made significant new investments in developing senior capacity with the appointment of five IT developers as well as experts in impact investment, gender and climate change. Solidaridad Asia is also the base of operations for three international programme coordinators to support global programmes on tea, sugarcane and dairy sectors.
After careful review, Solidaridad has taken innovative steps for delivering cutting-edge sustainability programmes. Solidaridad avoided competition with local agricultural extension agencies and grassroots-level NGOs by developing business models around local technical assistance. For that approach, Solidaridad hired top scientists and business leaders to come up with innovative solutions for sustainable development that can be implemented at scale.
This approach reinforces the strengths of Solidaridad in Asia. It is a global civil society organization that provides innovative sustainability solutions across different supply chains. Solidaridad in Asia is recognized for its innovative solution-oriented strategies, deep understanding of different supply chains, highly experienced professionals operating from 23 offices, access to low-cost technologies and its ability to provide a neutral platform for different stakeholders to come together with similar goals.
Communication and campaigning
In Asia, Solidaridad engaged with the mainstream media and actively shared information and knowledge with stakeholders in the entire region. Participation in events such as Globoil in Mumbai and the Tannery Project Launch at Kanpur was covered well in national newspapers and news channels. Achievements related to the Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages Programme have been broadcast by the Bangladesh news outlets and regional newspapers.
Solidaridad engaged with research universities in sugarcane and soy programmes to disseminate information to farmers and students. Experts from agricultural universities have been taken on field visits and invited to speak to smallholders and students at workshops and seminars in various institutes. A monthly newsletter is also being published from Indonesia to inform stakeholders and others of Solidaridad's commodity programmes.
The Indian Palm Oil Sustainability Framework was prepared and published for release in September 2017. Various proposals have been shared with stakeholders including government, and public agencies and associations. The Solidaridad South and South-East Asia blog had been updated regularly with news from the region.
Internal communication has also been a regular feature of learning sessions organized every month in the Asia head Office where teams from Indonesia and Bangladesh also participate by telecommunication. Various internal reports of commodities such as soy, castor and sugarcane have also been prepared and distributed to the public.
Finance and control
At the time of annual planning for 2017, REC SSEA submitted a project budget of 8,723,004 euro out of total budget of 9,261,254 euro to the Solidaridad supervisory board. By the end of 2017, the project budget was increased to 12,175,189 euro. The major source of increase was for the Safal–II programme in Bangladesh and Trustea-II in India. The European Union funded the WASH project in Sri Lanka. Similarly, the project expenditures also increased from 6,359,937 euro in 2016 to 10,439,710 euro in 2017.
Solidaridad South and South-East Asia's accounting system is uniformly implemented in the India, Bangladesh and Indonesia country offices. Custom-made spreadsheet tools are developed for each programme for the Finance Management Information System preparation and monitoring. The tools help to prepare audited expenditure statements for each donor as per donor requirements. For efficient and regular monitoring of the donor budget, a cloud-based application has been created. IT staff are in the process of testing this tool in consultation with the finance team.