By 2050 there will be nine billion people on the planet. This means we need to deliver more food using the same amount of land and water. As awareness of this challenge mounts, both private and government players increasingly recognize that a sustainable, climate-resilient approach to global trade is key.
Solidaridad’s Ambition 2020 strategy created the framework for the global network to address these challenges. In 2018, we strengthened our capacity worldwide to focus on driving our innovation areas in impact investment, digital solutions, gender inclusivity and climate and landscapes. This involved appointing experts in key regions to deepen our knowledge and expand our scope.
In 2018, Solidaridad’s global network worked with over 673,000 farmers, miners and workers to adopt good practices - beating our own targets by reaching almost twice the people we’d aimed to. This led to improved practices among 520,000 farmers. Engaging with these stakeholders in our 334 projects, we helped to improve the income of 228,000 producers. And together we brought 966,000 hectares of land under climate-smart management practices.
How were we able to achieve this? The hard work, knowledge and skills of 718 staff in eight regional offices working together with 452 private companies and 121 government agencies located across 41 different countries.
Growing our presence in Europe and Asia over the last year will allow us to have a greater impact moving forward. We registered new offices in Germany, China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Throughout the Solidaridad network, spanning five continents, we were able to make progress in sustainable production in spite of sometimes difficult political and economic environments.
In Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, Solidaridad profiled over 13,000 smallholders to facilitate their access to capital from six small and medium enterprises. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, we set up 20 enterprises to enhance farmers’ access to services and support for their farm businesses in partnership with private companies and farmer associations.
Solidaridad Asia supported four soy programmes working with more than 165,000 farmers. In India, thanks to the over 22,000 farmers who received training, we saw a 23% increase in soy yield. We worked with Business Watch Indonesia and Central Java Government to support soya-based landscapes working with 120,000 soy farmers. We also translated the sustainable-landscape.org website into Indonesian to benefit local farmers. In Bangladesh, the project introduced six new varieties which increased yields by almost 50%.
In South America, Solidaridad supported 118,000 coffee producers in Colombia and 17,000 in Peru, covering 265,000 and 50,000 hectares respectively. Online and offline training and improved financing mechanisms strengthened the resilience of coffee farms to climate change effects, and the importance of women in the coffee chain. Our work also expanded in Brazil, where we confirmed two new strategic partnerships to start implementing climate-smart technologies in 2019.
In Paraguay we supported small-scale dairy producers to adopt climate-smart technologies to improve herds’ resilience to sustained droughts in Dry Chaco. This increased dairy productivity by 17%, which led two new cooperatives to adopt climate-smart technologies. Large-scale livestock farms started piloting climate-smart technologies 22,000 hectares with 10,000 cattle in order to reduce pressure on existing forests while increasing productivity. Pilot farms have, so far, increased their herds by over 25% and meat productivity by 8%.
Work in our four innovation areas – climate and landscapes, gender inclusivity, impact investment and digital solutions – has gone from strength to strength over the past year with some notable achievements.
In Colombia, Solidaridad facilitated the signing of a zero-deforestation national agreement for palm oil. The declaration contributes to deforestation-free and resilient landscapes, and was signed by the Colombian, UK and Norwegian governments, WWF, TNC, WRI, and Unilever, among others.
With gender equality as a driving force, on 21 July 2018, for the first time ever, the Peruvian Government acknowledged the Pallaqueras (female gold miners) in an official decree. Through the new regulation, the Pallaqueras’ role in the mining sector is finally visible. This grants them access to formal markets within certain production volumes, where they can sell their ore to refiners, and gold processing plants.
In terms of impact investment, in 2018 our focus was West Africa. There we secured the continuation of the CORIP II (cocoa) and SWAPP II (palm oil) projects, together worth 34 million euros. Both projects aim to strengthen the service provision industry in the region by supporting small and medium enterprises getting into business.
We further developed our work to ensure that digital solutions are being used in an impactful and therefore accessible way. For example, we developed the Indian Sustainable Sugar Smallholders Framework, a digital self-assessment tool that captures data on four important aspects of sustainable sugarcane cultivation: Better farm management, labour and community rights, environment and ecosystem, and water and energy. It has already supported 48,000 farmers with self-assessment and will grow to cover 200,000 smallholder farmers in the next 1.5 years.
It does, however, feel wrong to talk about these successes without acknowledging that the world is in a deep crisis.
Looking back at 2018 one conclusion seems to be inevitable. Our planet and the future of billions of people is being sacrificed for the enrichment of a tiny elite. We cannot just think anymore in terms of transformation, but have to think in terms of regeneration. We have to restore what has already been lost. We have to reinvent our food systems, our energy systems, our consumption patterns. We urgently need new clean technologies, renewable energy sources and digital solutions. However the big question will be: Will all these useful innovations and technologies help us to close the poverty gap? Solidaridad will continue to do everything in its might to ensure that the power of farmers to work on the regeneration of our planet will increase. And this will include financial power. This is our ambition going forward.
Solidaridad Network Executive Director (till May 1, 2019)