South America

Climate-smart solutions for sustainable agriculture

Solidaridad South America is adapting its strategy to effectively serve farmers and companies with climate-smart solutions. We’re working towards more resilient production with less emissions and better use of land and water, while avoiding deforestation. We work in the challenging and diverse landscapes of the Amazon, the savannas of the Brazilian Cerrado, the Colombian Orinoquia, and in the dry forests of Chaco. Innovations in digital and financial tools are key for up-scaling climate-smart solutions.The climate-smart cocoa beans from one of the producers in our cocoa programme, were used to make the first chocolate from Tuêre at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Cocoa

    The adoption of climate-smart practices in the Brazilian Amazon has led to increases of 19% in yields and higher quality. Zezinho’s cocoa beans, one of the producers supported by the programme, were recognized at the Bean to Bar Chocolate Week 2018 and made into the very first Tuerê settlement chocolate bar that was presented at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

  • Coffee

    Solidaridad supported 117,733 coffee producers in Colombia and 16,923 in Peru, covering 265,000 and 50,316 hectares respectively. We delivered online and offline trainings to make coffee farms more resilient to climate change. Financial mechanisms, such as revolving funds managed by female producers, were established in order to strengthen their position in the value chain. Our coffee programme expanded to Brazil, where we confirmed two new strategic partnerships to implement climate-smart technologies in 2019.

  • Cotton

    We reached the halfway point in our six-year project to support smallholder cotton production in Brazilian semi-arid conditions, with funding from C&A Foundation. So far, six of the seven pilot farmers who switched to irrigated production in Minas Gerais recorded increases in productivity of 155% on average, with peaks of +643% per hectare. Irrigation also increased fibre length, fineness, brightness and colour above minimum quality requirements set by the national agriculture research institution, EMBRAPA.

  • Fruit & Vegetables

    Ecuador, the first exporter of bananas in the world, adopted the Banana Occupational Health and Safety manual developed by Solidaridad, World Banana Forum and Banana Link with financial support from IDH. This manual, considered a world benchmark by FAO, will impact the integrity, safety and well-being of 220,000 banana workers directly employed by banana farms, and 2.5 million indirectly employed in the banana industry.

  • Gold

    In Bolivia, Solidaridad supported the National Network of Female Miners, building leadership and advocacy capacity in 200 female miners. It also presented 36 policy recommendations to improve laws on responsible small-scale and cooperative mining. The Peruvian government officially commended the small-scale mine San Luis on successfully attaining Fairmined certification with support from Solidaridad and the Alliance for Responsible Mining. Solidaridad developed a risk assessment system to help small miners to apply for loans in the financial market.

  • Livestock

    In Paraguay, we worked with small-scale dairy producers to adopt climate-smart technologies (CST) whilst improving herds’ resilience to sustained droughts in Chaco. This has led to an increase in dairy productivity of 17%. Large-scale livestock farms have also started piloting CST over 21,967 hectares with 10,000 cattle. CST has been able to reduce pressure on existing forests, whilst farming has become more productive. Pilot farms have, so far, increased their herds by over 25% and meat productivity by 8%

  • Palm Oil

    In Colombia, Henkel and Solidaridad developed a digital solution to self-assess sustainability performance against Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles.The content of this tool was developed jointly with Fedepalma, the palm oil growers’ federation, and piloted with 75 producers. In Peru, Solidaridad supported Junpalma, the national palm oil growers’ board, to lead a National Agreement for Sustainable and Deforestation-Free Palm Oil. A baseline to assess good agricultural practices in the Amazon, in line with RSPO standards, was conducted.

  • Soy

    Our technical assistance model for traders to improve sustainability along their supply chains reached 6,100 hectares and 21,513 tons under sustainable management in Paraguay. This exceeded the targets set with COFCO by 122% in area, and by 170% in volume. These positive results started a ripple effect in Colonias Unidas cooperative, leading to 700 new producers joining training sessions, in addition to the original 100 expected to participate.

  • Sugarcane

    In Brazil, the data-smart technical assistance model developed by Solidaridad five years ago has now reached 90% of Raizen’s independent sugarcane suppliers. Farmers produced 24 million tons of sustainable sugarcane, of which 2.9 million tons complied with Bonsucro standards. The use of digital solutions enabled an increased productivity of 16% in Bonsucro awarded Top Cana. Newly launched project Muda Cana reached 1,310 Orplana members. In Colombia, Procaña and Solidaridad piloted digital solutions with 76 producers over 9,152 hectares.

  • Tea

    In Argentina, 124 producers and three processing plants adopted good practices across 1,099 hectares within native forests.

Developments

In Brazil, the significant budget cuts to the Ministry of Environment and deforestation monitoring force to greater challenges in Solidaridad’s work. Opportunities to engage with federal government agencies on land-neutral agricultural interventions, in line with commitments established under the Paris agreement, are substantially reduced. However, international concern for the climate agenda created a growing flow of resources, as well as opportunities for partnerships with companies pressured to adopt sustainable sourcing. In addition, the National Biofuel Policy, which aims to cover 45% of national energy needs with renewable sources, provided incentives for low-carbon farming practices in sugarcane, as Brazil is the biggest producer of bioethanol in the world.

In Paraguay, civil society organizations rose up against the deforestation rate in the Chaco region. This was in response to a surge in temperatures, with highs of 45°C - the hottest temperature recorded in 50 years. As the new government strengthened control on land-use change permits to tackle illegal deforestation, Solidaridad contacted authorities to showcase our landscape solutions.

In Colombia, deforestation rates of primary forest reached a record level of 176,977 hectares in 2018 [According to World Resources Institute report].  In response, as a member of the Palm Oil Zero-Deforestation Declaration, Solidaridad supported palm oil companies with their risk assessments of exposure to deforestation and promoted climate-smart agriculture models in key commodities. Similarly, in Peru, we supported the deforestation-free agenda of Junpalma, the national board of palm oil growers. We also scaled up climate-smart solutions in coffee agroforestry systems amidst the reorganization of relevant public entities as a result of the President’s resignation.

The impending elections in Bolivia affected the network of public partners with whom we work on enabling environments for small-scale mining and tackling illegal deforestation.

Achievements

Solidaridad has taken a firm step towards supporting economically viable solutions for smallholders in mitigation strategies in the Amazon region. This is key for Brazil to sustain any lasting commitment made in the Paris Agreement. Our pilot projects integrated livestock and cocoa in agroforestry systems, improved agricultural practices, restored degraded pastures and avoided deforestation. This led to a reduction of up to 4.5 times GHG emissions (-113 tons of CO2eq emissions/hectare/year) compared to conventional scenarios. Plots also showed a 31% increase in gross revenue against plots with livestock alone, and a 260% increase in net income compared to cocoa as a monoculture.

Optimizing landscape functions in the Paraguayan Dry Chaco through the coordination of public-private efforts also stands out as a solution for water shortage, food security and income generation during the drought season. After two years of piloting climate-smart technologies, two new built reservoirs for water harvest with capacity for 36,000m3 are now serving 944 indigenous families. Drip irrigation orchards provide staple food for 390 indigenous families, and sesame cultivation provided 70,000 dollars in revenues from sales.

After five years, the data intelligence that Solidaridad has provided to Raízen, the largest sugar supplier in Brazil, confirms that digital tools are strategic in making technical assistance more efficient. They allow us to focus on the most critical challenges and prioritize the farmers and regions that will generate more impact in terms of volume. As a result, 363,497 hectares of sugarcane were managed under recommended production and management practices in 2018. Fifty-four percent of supported farmers implemented the required practices regarding the use of agrochemicals, 71% provided their workers with at least the minimum standard of working conditions, and 74% preserved riparian areas.

ORGANIZATION

The study “Carbon Balance in Family Agricultural Production in the Amazon”, conducted with Imaflora, provided evidence that land-neutral production is possible in the Amazon and that family farming is relevant to public and private mitigation strategies. The study was selected for the Yale’s 24th Annual Conference of the International Society of Tropical Foresters. Another study, Technical notes for deforestation-free agriculture and forestry investments in the Peruvian Amazon was presented at the Sustainable Amazon Forum in the annual Expoamazónica event in Peru.

Solidaridad gathered more than 50 public, private and civil society leaders from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and China to exchange experiences and gaps in monitoring and control of illegal deforestation linked to soy farming (see video) and agree on a joint work agenda focused on land governance. Also, a group of Solidaridad experts from East Africa visited Colombia and Peru to learn first-hand about the coffee-growing model developed in these countries that’s well-adapted to climate change.

In coffee, Solidaridad and the Global Coffee Platform led a study that helps better understand the farmers’ rationale in smallholder farming in order to improve income generation strategies. In gold, Solidaridad launched a guide to improve health and safety in alluvial mining, and policy recommendations to enhance more responsible mining among cooperatives in Bolivia. Solidaridad also contributed to the conference “Small-scale mining for the 21st century”, organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

In 2018 Solidaridad South America employed a total of 86.5 members of staff (49% women and 51% men). The region contracted 29 new employees in 2018 whilst 22 members left the organization.

Communication and campaigning

During 2018, Solidaridad South America worked on raising awareness on key issues and profiled market solutions to enhance more sustainable and inclusive development. This included actions on social media like singer Marta Gomez promoting the role of women in the coffee sector and coverage of Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten visiting “Las Rosas” female coffee association. Solidaridad also featured our partners and regional solutions at international events, such as the Bonsucro Week in Nicaragua and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting in Cartagena.

In Colombia, the Sustainable Trade Platform Forum annual event (see video) gained national media attention on the need to create a business case for sustainable sourcing and opportunities to increase sustainable trade between Colombia and the Netherlands, its main commercial partner in the European Union. Together with Minister Schouten, and Marcela Urueña, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Affairs of Colombia, international experts presented innovative ideas in the areas of collective impact and inclusive finance.

In Brazil, Solidaridad supported the participation of 150 Amazon cocoa producers in the biggest chocolate and cacao festival in the Amazon, where they presented samples of their beans to 60,000 visitors. Zezinho, one of these producers, became a spokesman for sustainable cocoa at the Bean to Bar Chocolate Week 2018 and in the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

In Peru, Solidaridad promoted its shared value model for artisanal miners and mining companies at the Mining and Investment Latin America event. We also advocated for sustainable sourcing at Fashion Café, a public event organized by the Peruvian Sustainable Fashion Association to raise public awareness on responsible jewellery.

Finance and control

In a context where the Official Development Assistance (ODA) is reducing the allocation of funding to South American countries and concentrating more support to lower income countries in Africa and Asia over time, Solidaridad South America has adjusted its strategy to create stronger alliances with the corporate sector and national governments.

 

Annual expenditures in thousand euros

 

Personnel in FTE

 

Partnerships

We worked closely with Raízen, Socicana, Orplana, Henkel, Fedepalma, Cenipalma, Procaña, COFCO and S&D on tailor-made digital solutions. The solutions are designed to assess farmer performance, deliver recommendations and verify information from the field to help technical staff make their visits to producers more efficient.

Good Energies Foundation, C&A Foundation and the Dutch Government provided financial support to develop climate-smart models. In Chaco, we partnered with Grupo CREA to prove sustainable livestock intensification models to curve in-farm deforestation. In the Brazilian Amazon, we joined forces with Cargill, Olam, Barry Callebaut, Nestlé and the World Cocoa Foundation to stimulate sourcing of low carbon cocoa through the 1st Dialogue Forum for sustainable supply chains. We also signed a contract with Norad to upscale tested models of deforestation-free coffee, cocoa, soy and livestock linked to European, Chinese and US markets.

Partners in multi-stakeholder platforms (MSP) supported conditions for sustainable production and trade at the national level. Under the supervision of the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, Colombian (Fedepalma) and Dutch (MVO) sector organizations signed a joint declaration to increase sustainable palm oil trade with IDH and Solidaridad. In Bolivia, the public institution for Forests and Land management improved three basic law enforcement processes and implemented systems for monitoring and control of illegal clearings. The government of Salta province in Argentina formally joined the regional MSP focused on the eradication of illegal deforestation. In Peru, we partnered with Earth Innovation Institute, MDA, Conservation International and ICRAF to develop regional plans for green growth in seven regions of the Peruvian Amazon.

The official audited annual accounts for Latin America can be found below. Please note: this is a combined statement for South America and Central America, so numbers in this document are a sum of the Central America and South America data. Official audited annual accounts Fundacion Solidaridad Latino America.   

Gonzalo la Cruz

Managing Director, Solidaridad South America