Regional Commodity Programmes
We shared lessons from years of implementing rural service centres with Ghana’s COCOBOD to drive service delivery by small and growing businesses. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, we contributed to national cocoa platforms as well as policy and regulatory arrangements for the sector. We helped establish the first roundtable to secure favourable land tenure arrangements for cocoa farmers in Ghana. And about 1,600 trained youth received support to establish 789 hectares of cocoa farms.
Solidaridad West Africa trained 330 miners, including 140 women, in responsible mining practices. This resulted in increased adherence to health, safety and environmental rules and responsible mercury use. In five mines, Solidaridad piloted the CRAFT voluntary technical code to prepare artisanal small-scale mines for the international market and to meet Fairmined standards. Solidaridad deepened its thought leadership by contributing policy recommendations and key insights on good mining practices at seven regional and international conferences and other events.
We supported four oil palm multi-stakeholder platforms in Côte d’Ivoire and strengthened our relationship with the Federation of Oil Palm Farmers’ Cooperatives. The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana received support to perform optimally. National advisory committees in Nigeria and Ghana were established to guide the implementation of climate-smart oil palm interventions. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, national oil palm platforms benefited from Solidaridad’s knowledge and insights of the RSPO national interpretation process.
Palm oil on the agenda
Solidaridad West Africa aligned with governments’ policy initiatives to enhance its work in sustainable and climate-smart oil palm production and milling. In Nigeria, the government’s policy to increase production to five million tonnes a year by 2027 provided an impetus for our work.
In Liberia, the local industry is receiving national and international development support. In response, Solidaridad stepped up best management practices in oil palm fields and began establishing midsize mills.
Cocoa prices decline
The decline in world cocoa prices affected our work in this supply chain. In Côte d'Ivoire, the ban on cocoa productivity enhancement programmes throughout 2018 and 2019 contributed to the slow start of our programme.
We continued to pursue and promote crop diversification strategies for smallholder cocoa farmers to develop resilient income streams from both food and cash crops of higher commercial value.
Enabling access to credit
There was little interest from private cocoa companies to work with Solidaridad West Africa to identify commercial impact investment finance for cocoa rehabilitation and intensification. However, we succeeded in enabling companies to access commercial credit to fund rehabilitation and diversification.
This included support for smallholder farmers and local communities to begin Village Savings and Loans Associations. The locally driven efforts helped communities to raise collateral and initial group funds to leverage small credits from microfinance institutions and commercial banks.
Scoping new income streams
We increased our focus on identifying new income-generating business opportunities to diversify our funding streams as traditional grant funding dwindled.
67,000 workers and producers trained
Solidaridad West Africa trained 66,970 workers and producers in sustainable practices in cocoa, gold, coffee, cashew, and oil palm, in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. More than 40,000 of those trained are implementing sustainable production practices, on 38,307 hectares of land.
In Côte d’Ivoire, this included 1,020 farmers trained in Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards, as well as 77 facilitators of cooperatives and managers of RSPO groups. In Sierra Leone, smallholder oil palm farmers trained by us were able to identify and preserve biodiversity hotspots, and began adopting responsible practices including zero burning during land preparation.
Over 4 million seedlings raised
Solidaridad West Africa raised more than 3,800,000 cocoa, oil palm and cashew seedlings; about 60% matured and were distributed to farmers for planting. In Liberia, over 9,000 smallholder farmers optimized cocoa production by intercropping hybrid cocoa seedlings with other food crops. In Ghana, we raised a further 530,982 tree seedlings to support climate-smart community and individual initiatives. We also organized 112 Video Viewing Clubs training sessions on cocoa in 89 communities to facilitate the training of 5,345 farmers in good agricultural practices.
We also developed user-friendly interactive voice response technology to deliver technical content to about 50,000 farmers, workers and other producers to improve their cocoa production systems. More than 15,900 farmers received inputs and services from 97 small and growing businesses set up and trained by Solidaridad to provide profitable and investment-ready agricultural services.
We formed new partnerships, convened and participated in 26 multi-stakeholder platforms, and contributed 15 policy proposals to relevant public and private decision-makers.
Engaging 71 new partners
Solidaridad West Africa engaged 170 partners in 2019, including 71 new ones. In all, they comprised 36 government institutions, 40 civil society organisations, 32 private companies, 24 producer groups, 14 small and growing businesses, nine funding partners, eight educational or research institutions, and seven financial institutions.
These partnerships were relevant in addressing multiple strategic issues related to the region’s commodity value chains. For instance, the partnership with private companies saw the establishment of new small and growing businesses delivering services to over 15,000 farmers.
We are a partner of choice
The collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in Sierra Leone for tree crop development led to the formal recognition of Solidaridad West Africa as the partner of choice in the country. Our partnerships with financial service providers resulted in 1,800 smallholder cocoa farmers receiving financing of 4.5 million cedis (712,000 euros) for farm investments.
In Ghana, Solidaridad’s partnership with the Global Landscape Forum and Wageningen University & Research Centre for Development Innovation, led to the crafting of the first-ever international short course on ‘Securing Rights in Landscapes’ for civil society organizations and other landscape practitioners.
Palm oil interventions in Nigeria
To implement climate-smart palm oil interventions in Nigeria, Solidaridad partnered with the federal government through the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade, Environment, Investment and Industry, the Department of Climate Change, and the National REDD+ Secretariat. Governments of four states - Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Enugu, and Kogi State - issued letters of interest to collaborate with Solidaridad to transform their oil palm sectors through climate-smart approaches.
Our team expands
Following a rigorous recruitment process, 46 new qualified experts were employed in 2019, bringing the total number to 181. To enhance bonding and team spirit, Solidaridad West Africa organized a residential retreat for all staff members within the subregion.
Solidaridad West Africa successfully completed a comprehensive process to redesign and review the existing HR manual, introduced new policies and updated existing ones to reflect changing trends in the workforce.
Improved performance management
A new performance management tool was introduced to incorporate staff’s personal and career development goals, training needs and work-life balance aspirations besides their annual performance targets.
Grievance and whistleblower policies were implemented. The region had two confidential and integrity advisors in place to respond promptly to integrity issues.
Managerial competency development training was organized for 30 staff, including current and potential managers. The training focused on equipping leaders with the requisite knowledge and competencies to be abreast of current managerial trends.
COMMUNICATION AND CAMPAIGNING
Support across all programmes
The communications team enhanced internal communications and ensured that all projects and programmes had adequate support. It created easy-to-read flyers that briefly explained the SWAPP II, CORIP II, National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-smart Oil Palm Smallholders, and SAT4Business projects.
The team sent out the first regional newsletter and two newsletter editions on the Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism project. It crafted eight short videos, including an animation presenting the region’s 2018 achievements, as well as 6,000 branded materials and 2,600 brochures to support project communication.
Reaching out in the media and in person
The regional social media pages teemed with relevant content, including 200 posts on Facebook and LinkedIn. A total of ten speaking slots for senior officers to engage stakeholders on relevant themes within the region were recorded and two published blog posts on LinkedIn.
Strategic media engagements contributed to spotlighting the regional work in several media outlets - both digital and print - in all operational countries, yielding more than 80 news publications. Solidaridad West Africa also wrote a piece on the critical issue of the cocoa floor price, which was republished in several media outlets.
Please see the link to the officially audited financial statements here: