Fruit & vegetables

The fruit and vegetables sector is one of the biggest and diverse economic sectors in the world and occupies more land than coffee, cocoa, sugar, and soy. The fruit and vegetable sector can help agriculture industries in developing nations to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty.
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12,114

farmers and workers trained to adopt good practices

2,178

farms or estates that are formally registered

3,502

farmers and workers organized in a producer group or cooperative

Picking of citrus in Zebediela, South Africa

Challenges

A varied and fluctuating supply chain

The fruit and vegetable sector is one of the largest in the world, and is incredibly diverse across regions and supply chains. Insufficient worker protections, excessive and improper use of pesticides, and fluctuating prices threaten both the producers growing the crops and the land on which they grow.

Many of the one billion people working in the agricultural industry struggle to support themselves and their families. Poor labor practices and use of pesticides distance them further from both food and economic security. On top of all of this, many people have no access to affordable fruits and vegetables.

Many farms use harmful pesticides and agrochemicals to protect their crops from insects, weeds, and plant diseases. Runoff from pesticides can contaminate the water communities drink. These practices harm another one of their biggest investments: the land on which they grow fruit and vegetables.

To date, efforts to bolster sustainability within the sector have fallen short. Bringing together stakeholders from across the sector creates difficulties in implementing solutions. Different interests, processes and topics are relevant depending on the region or specific supply chain.

The worker equipped with boots, gloves, to be environmentally friendly, making sure that your packing equipment meets certain security parameters, none of that existed 15 years ago.

Iván Lobo, production coordinator at Unibán, Colombia

Solutions

Collaborating all along the supply chain

Our work focuses on collaboration with all levels of the supply chain, with the farm at the centre. We strive for innovation in production techniques, irrigation and seed quality. This is so farming practices can support the environment, the dependent economies, and those who cultivate crops. Sustainable agriculture is the foundation for sustainable communities.

washing bananas

Since the fruit and vegetable sector is so diverse – from huge banana plantations in Latin America to household cassava production in Africa – we focus on challenges for certain fruits and vegetables in particular regions. Our work in Kenya’s horticultural sector saw 10,000 workers trained in good agricultural practices, financial management and enterprise development.

Creating food security is deeply important. That’s why we seek innovative solutions that guarantee production for domestic consumption and fair prices for agro-commodities for export. Our food security programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya support 120,000 farmers to improve food security.

We currently sit on the World Banana Forum executive committee and bring together major brands in the industry, like Dole and Chiquita. In the juice sector, we’ve been working to set a suitability agenda. In collaboration with a selection of industry stakeholders, we’ve come together to tackle sector-wide sustainability challenges and find solutions.

Occupying the front row seat to the quality of decisions that had triggered our growth over the years puts me in the best position to spearhead our future growth.

Lorata Botha, participant in Farmer2Market programme, South Africa

Achievements

Digital tools and market opportunities

Significant progress was made on the uptake of good practices, use of digital tools, and increasing market opportunities for fruit & vegetable farmers. Our Horticulture project in Southern Africa provided smallholders with training in good practices and increased access to formal and informal markets. Across East Africa, more than 21,000 farmers adopted good practices, including safe use of herbicides, efficient irrigation systems, and post-harvest technologies and about 11,668 people registered for our Farmers Realm app, a two-way platform that provides information and links to experts. Our Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL) programme in Bangladesh contributed to a 200% increase in yields, while 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.

Global progress

In Asia, the SaFaL programme supported almost 18,000 farmers (52% women) and market actors to achieve greater productivity through the adoption of sustainable technologies in production and post-harvest management. In Africa, we commissioned an agricultural status report in Zambia to gain a greater understanding of the fruit and vegetable sectors in-country. And Ecuador adopted the Banana Occupational Health and Safety manual developed by Solidaridad, which will impact the integrity, safety and well-being of 220,000 banana workers.

Organizing and training

The SAFAL project (Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages) in Bangladesh organized 57,000 farmers into 1,000 producer groups and supported them through training and better access to seeds. This, in turn, improved access to technology and connections with national retail markets in Dhaka. SAFAL formed Union-level Business Associations (UBAs) to develop stronger links and promote entrepreneurship. Yields in horticulture increased by 18% and farmers’ incomes increased by an average 16%. SAFAL is organizing pot-songs and street dramas to develop knowledge and awareness and promote nutrient-rich diets, as well as improving health and hygiene.

Bringing stakeholders together

Solidaridad and the World Banana Forum partnered with the Ecuadorian government, national exporters association, banana farmers, workers unions, international banana companies and retailers in order to improve occupational health and safety in banana production. A national manual was developed based on new legislation and endorsed by the Ecuadorian government. This national manual will be a reference document for capacity building in the sector.

Strengthening systems

Strengthening food production and distribution systems for local markets is becoming increasingly important. Solidaridad is developing a portfolio of food security-related projects, including fruit and vegetables in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mozambique and Ghana. In some cases, export crops are an enabler for farmers to improve their food crops. The food security programme in Kenya and Ethiopia, with Nestlé and Ecom as contributing partners, is an example of this approach, which aims to reach 120,000 farmers.

Working together for change

Solidaridad and leading Dutch dairy producer Friesland Campina Riedel BV (FCR) launched a four-year, joint programme to improve the sustainability of fruit production around the globe. The orange juice sector in Brazil was identified as a priority target, resulting in the development of a self-assessment toolkit for citrus.

Engaging the juice sector

Solidaridad established cooperation with juice sector organizations AIJN, the recently established, business driven fruit juice CSR platform Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI platform), and more.  

New partnerships

Solidaridad launched its partnership with Friesland Campina Riedel, the market-leader in the Dutch fruit juice sector in order to move towards 100% sustainably sourced products.

Solidaridad was contracted by Dutch Embassy in Bangladesh for the the four-year Sustainable agriculture Food security and Linkages programme (SaFaL). This programme is helping 200,000 smallholder farmers in Bangladesh adopt sustainable practices in horticulture and other areas while improving food security.

Priority to local food chains

Solidaridad’s programme to promote sustainability in the Kenyan horticultural industry began, which gave priority to local and regional food chains in order to strengthen food security. Solidaridad began a banana sector sustainability programme in Colombia in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy.

The World Banana Forum

The World Banana Forum was established. Bananas are the only fruit whose stakeholders are organized through a roundtable. 

AgroFair

Solidaridad founded AgroFair Assistance & Development, an embedded service provider to support current and future AgroFair farmers.

Fair Trade bananas

In 1994, Solidaridad began working in the banana sector. By 1996, Solidaridad developed the concept of Fair Trade bananas and founded AgroFair Ltd, the pioneer fruit company that introduced the worlds first mission-driven, Fair Trade bananas to the European market. Then in 1999, the farmers organized into the Cooperative of AgroFair Producers and began supplying AgroFair. They became formal owners of 50% of the shares in the company.

Where we work

Featured Programmes

Exploring emerging markets

Globally, Bangladesh ranks third in terms of production of vegetables and eighth in mango. The Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL) is supporting 11,715 farmers (58% women) and the market to tap the potential of productive gains by adopting sustainable technologies in production and post-harvest management.

Food for All Project in Kenya (F4APK)

F4APK is a public-private partnership project funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency aimed to improve the livelihood and resilience of 48,500 households in the Eastern region of Kenya. Solidaridad is working with Heifer International, SoilCares Foundation, Meru Greens Limited and Kenya’s Horticulture Crops Directorate to support sustainable food crop and livestock management activities. The project has developed three business cases which include the: i) development of dairy hubs and improved dairy management services at the cooperative level;  ii) establishment of nurseries; and iii) processing of french-beans for the export market.

Creating Shared Value in Agriculture Value Chain project

The Creating Shared Value in Agriculture Value Chain project is working with about 12,000 smallholder farmers, within the bean and barley value chain with the goal of increasing farmers’ income and resilience in the south west and western regions of Uganda. Funded by aBi Development limited, the project seeks to boost the production of barley and beans, increase access to markets for smallholder farmers and establish strong farmer institutions, improving organizational capacity and business skills of beneficiaries and other identified nodal actors.

Join us in making fruit & vegetables truly sustainable