South America

Enabling the uptake of climate-smart agriculture

In a year marked by fires in the Amazon region and low commodity prices, Solidaridad South America reinforced its engagement with companies and smallholder farmers. Increased incomes and productivity gains for smallholders and a better carbon balance are achievable and much needed. That’s why we built a positive agenda focused on landscape restoration and low-carbon agriculture. Cocoa programme participants in Brazil sold their premium product at triple the standard price. In Paraguay’s Chaco region, dairy farmers decreased their greenhouse gas emissions by 62% while increasing productivity by 17%, and beef producers increased volumes by 60%, all using climate-smart methods.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Cocoa

    Our partnership with bean-to-bar producer Casa Lasevicius increased demand for premium cocoa from the area, retailing at triple the price of standard cocoa. In 2019, three tonness of the cocoa were sold at an average price of 25 Brazilian reals (5 euros) per kg, generating a gross income of 75,000 reals (15,000 euros) for eight producers in the project.

  • Coffee

    Café del Futuro (Coffee of the Future), the second stage of Solidaridad’s joint strategy with Norway’s International Climate Forests Initiative, was officially launched in Colombia and Peru. The project has already supported 1,880 coffee growers, and directly managed 5,844 hectares using climate-smart practices at the end, as well as the planting of over 20,000 trees. The first circular economy coffee supply chain between Peru and the Netherlands was launched in partnership with Olam and Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

  • Cotton

    Cotton producers in Brazil increased their profits by 18% despite poor rainfall patterns and lower farm gate values for cotton. Strengthening of local cooperative Coopercat led to an increase of about 10% in the number of smallholder producers supported through technical assistance, collective purchasing of inputs and collective sales of cotton lint. The processing volume of 630 tonnes of cotton lint was the same as in 2018.

  • Fruit & Vegetables

    We coordinated with the Peruvian Banana Cluster and the country’s National Food Safety and Quality Service to develop a strategy to prevent an outbreak of a disease affecting the fruit. This positively impacted 8,500 smallholders that depend on banana exports for a living. In Brazil, we facilitated a pre-competitive citrus programme to improve the competitiveness of almost 10% of the orange producers in the Brazilian citrus belt.

  • Gold

    A leading gold mining company in Peru was the first of 18 large companies to co-fund the formalization process of Pepas de Oro, an artisanal small-scale miners organisation. As a result, 266 artisanal scale miners improved their health and safety conditions. Since 2016, Solidaridad South America has supported the production of 1,125 kg of gold using responsible practices.

  • Livestock

    Dairy farmers in Paraguay reduced greenhouse gas emissions per litre of milk by 62% while increasing productivity by 17% as part of our cattle programme. At the same time, beef farmers managed 15,000 hectares (+311% of the target) using climate-smart techniques, while increasing beef volumes by 60%. In Colombia, Solidaridad signed a milestone agreement with the Ministry of Environment and private sector partners to reduce beef and dairy-related deforestation by 2030.

  • Palm Oil

    We signed three important partnerships in 2019. The first, with the Colombian palm oil growers federation and the country’s Ministry of Environment, aims for 75% of palm oil to be produced using sustainable methods by 2023. The second, with the RSPO, brings its new Smallholder Academy to Latin America. And the third, with Peru’s largest consumer goods company, means we will assess sustainability gaps in its supply chain, mainly made up of smallholder-owned mills.

  • Soy

    In Paraguay, the MejorAgro project contributed to more sustainable management of 6,129 hectares (+122% of the target), which yielded 21,513 tons of soybeans (+170%). Over 1,594 new producers joined training sessions. The UN Global Compact recognized the project’s use of digital technology, real-time analysis of farming practices, and continuous improvement. Meanwhile, Paraguay received the National Energy Globe Award for its UniSol project, which contributes to sustainable agriculture and combats deforestation.

  • Sugarcane

    In Brazil, 45% of the farmers enrolled in our Elo sustainability initiative achieved a level of excellence, implementing more than 80% of the recommended practices. This entitled them to higher prices. Solidaridad engaged with Raízen, Brazil's leading sugarcane ethanol producer, and the Dutch branch of electric utility RWE to study the potential of sugarcane waste to generate renewable energy. In Colombia, the Fenix programme implemented with producers association Procaña, expanded its user base to 300.

  • Tea

    In Argentina, participants in our sustainable tea initiative produced 15,600 tonnes of green leaves for the US market, 25% more than the original target. Nearly 4,000 hectares were farmed using good agricultural practices, three times the target. A total of 166 producers were trained during the project and 140 of them succeeded in obtaining Rainforest Alliance certification.

Developments

The Amazon on fire

The fires in the Amazon region of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay set off alarm bells worldwide. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 30% compared to 2018. The surface of tropical forests affected by the fires in Bolivia was about the same, while the fire jumped the border with Paraguay to consume a further 70,000 hectares in the Chaco region. Colombia lost 200,000 hectares. 

The Brazilian agribusiness sector was increasingly divided on the importance of sustainability and environmental compliance to remain competitive. Meanwhile, work on the so-called Bioceanic Railway Corridor connecting Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia to Chile, prompted beef and soy traders to plan increased operations in the Chaco. This will add pressure on the soil, water resources and forests of this fragile region. 

Focus on landscape restoration

Solidaridad South America strengthened its engagement with the private sector, local governments and producer organizations in a positive agenda focused on landscape restoration in the Brazillian Amazon. 

For example, we joined the board and executive committee of the Coalition on Climate, Forests, and Agriculture. The Coalition, which has 200 members, developed a strong and constructive position on sustainable land use, aimed at influencing the federal government to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

Combating deforestation

In December 2019, we won the tender to host the coordination of the World Economic Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance in Colombia and Peru. This brought us closer to the epicentre of the coalition of public and private partners to reduce and avoid deforestation in supply chains.

Achievements

Providing data-backed strategic insights

Data-backed technical assistance is the backbone of all our projects, providing producer organizations and companies with strategic insights on the challenges faced by farmers and production trends. We also piloted a new fintech-based lending platform in Colombia to provide oil palm smallholders with working capital. 

We incubated innovative strategies to accelerate the uptake of climate-smart agriculture schemes. A study with Wageningen University in the Netherlands estimated that low-carbon practices implemented by our livestock initiative in the Brazilian Amazon could lead to a reduction in carbon emissions of 75% per kilogramme of weaned calf. In the Chaco, smallholder dairy farmers decreased their greenhouse gas emissions by 62% and accessed loans for investments in climate-smart infrastructure for the first time. 

Creating coffee's first circular value chain

In the Brazilian part of the Atlantic Forest, Solidaridad is providing digital solutions to support farmers in the execution of their environmental action plans, which will grant them access to the Payments for Environmental Services scheme. Olam, Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Solidaridad launched an initiative that aims to establish the first circular coffee value chain between Peru and the Netherlands. 

Multi-stakeholder platforms continued to prove successful to reduce illegal deforestation in Bolivia and Argentina, and enhance sector transformation. In Colombia, the Sustainable Trade Platform partners that adopted sustainable practices represent 80% of the country’s coffee exports and 39% of palm oil production. 

A pre-competitive partnership for the juice industry

In Brazil, we signed a new pre-competitive partnership with Coca-Cola, Cutrale, Innocent Drinks and Eckes-Granini to support almost 10% of the smallholder orange growers in the Brazillian citrus belt to remain competitive.

Annual expenditures in thousand euros

 

Personnel in FTE

 

Partnerships

Partnering for low-carbon agriculture

Our strategic partnership with Imaflora, Brazil’s Institute for Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification, continues to be key to advance our ambition to build a strong business case for low-carbon agriculture.

As a first step, we created a methodology for measuring the carbon balance in family agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon in 2017. In 2019, we measured greenhouse gas emissions of different types of dairy farms, as well as the soil sequestration capabilities of pilot beef cattle farms in the Chaco region. 

Hidden environmental costs revealed

To improve the information available about the economics of climate-smart coffee, we strengthened our collaboration with True Price, which has developed a methodology to define the social and environmental costs of crops. A new study on the true price of climate-smart coffee production in Colombia revealed the hidden environmental costs of this model at its origins. 

Norad renewed its financial support as part of its Tropical Forest Initiative to take our climate-smart agriculture strategy to the next level in our work in coffee in Colombia and Peru, as well as in cocoa, soy and livestock in the Amazon and the Cerrado in Brazil. 

The appeal of our Continual Improvement model

Global commodities trader Cargill joined the Bolivian multi-stakeholder platform for sustainable land use management in the Santa Cruz region. It also started the replication of Solidaridad’s continuous improvement model (already implemented by traders ADM and COFCO) for soy suppliers in Paraguay. 

organization

Solidaridad South America had 115 employees at the year end. This is the first year that we tipped our gender balance, with 55% male and 45% female staff. Fourteen people left the organization and 39 new people were recruited, which means that 33% of our staff were new employees.

Better data harvesting and management

With regards to learning, our teams in South America made substantial progress on the quality and consistency of data: 

  • 88% of our projects reviewed their theories of change and aligned their indicators accordingly

  • we conducted baseline studies in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru

  • we improved data collection by adopting Extension Solution as the main tool to capture it

  • we conducted training sessions to enhance staff ability to identify, measure and evaluate impact

  • 15 staff members trained in social inclusion focused on assessment and project formulation methodologies. 

Studies and analysis

Two studies analyzed the progress in sustainability in the national palm oil markets of Peru and Colombia. A similar study and a true-price analysis were conducted for Colombia’s coffee sector. A study of the economic viability of smallholders in Brazil’s Caatinga region shed light on the region’s crop diversification beyond cotton.

We also analyzed the potential of livestock production in smallholder farming in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as an evaluation of the policy and advocacy outcomes of the multi-stakeholder platforms in Paraguay. 

COMMUNICATION AND CAMPAIGNING

Connecting to local audiences

We launched the Portuguese version of the Solidaridad South America website during the tenth anniversary of Solidaridad Brazil in October, to better cater to Brazilian audiences. In the period to December 2019, it attracted 35% of visits to our regional site. 

Online campaigns were successful in raising awareness of relevant topics for Solidaridad, such as the fires in the Amazon. Posts for International Women’s Day on female miners and coffee producers reached 80,200 people.

Climate-smart agriculture in the media

For the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, an indigenous leader shared a video that reached 56,200 people. The campaign for the International Day of Forests focusing on climate-smart coffee and cocoa reached 45,077 people. 

Our experts were featured in leading national media such as Portafolio and Caracol in Colombia, El Comercio in Peru, and El Cronista in Argentina, advocating for markets to stimulate climate-smart agriculture in the region.

High-profile events

Our staff participated as speakers at 18 events, including ReCo hosted by the Speciality Coffee Association, Bonsucro Week on sugarcane, as well as the annual conferences of the roundtables for responsible Soy, Beef and Palm Oil

The launch events of the Norad Tropical Forest Initiative’s climate-smart coffee programme in Peru and Colombia were attended by Peru’s agriculture minister, Fabiola Muñoz, and Norway’s deputy minister for the climate and environment, Sveinung Rotevatn. 

Solidaridad organized seven events that gathered more than 500 relevant stakeholders including two events with Wageningen University of the Netherlands to discuss our findings on the joint study on low-carbon livestock in the Amazon.  

FINANCE AND CONTROL

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 Latinoamericana.

Gonzalo la Cruz

Managing Director, Solidaridad South America