Ministry of Foreign Affairs invests in Solidaridad’s producer programme

For the next four years the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing financial support to Solidaridad’s work with the business community to make production chains more sustainable. Solidaridad’s existing programmes in the global cultivation, trade and processing of soy, palm oil, sugar and cotton are being expanded and a new programme will be developed in the livestock sector. Together these sectors lay claim to more than 60% of all the available agricultural land in the world.

Ben Knapen, state secretary for development cooperation, today announced that Solidaridad will receive a total of 29.5 million euros over the next four years. This amount will be doubled by contributions from the relevant industrial sectors. The Norwegian government has already pledged funding and other foreign donors are also expected to contribute, making this one of the biggest programmes for public-private development cooperation.

State Secretary Ben Knapen: “In this programme Solidaridad provides training to improve the position of small farmers, the producers who form the basis of supply chains of strategic importance at both the local and international levels, as well as for the Netherlands. This gives the farmers better access to markets for agricultural produce, and therefore better income levels. They also learn how to make more efficient and safer use of pesticides. This is not only good for the farmers, international buyers and consumers, but also for the environment.”

Solidaridad’s programme provides support to producers and workers in developing countries in making smarter and more sustainable use of the land, with the aim of raising productivity, improving incomes and reducing negative impacts on humans and the environment. At the same time, it gives the companies involved opportunities to improve their security of supply and obtain more sustainable raw materials. The programme is closely associated with the ‘round tables’,1 the international initiatives for sustainable production in the participating sectors.

The programme is a follow-up to the existing successful cooperation with the round tables for soy (RTRS), sugarcane (Bonsucro) and palm oil (RSPO), which has given small-scale producers in developing countries an active voice in round table decision making. The programme has been a driver for the acceptance of global sustainability standards for soy and sugarcane and a firm commitment by Dutch companies to buy sustainable palm oil and soy. The new programme is supported by major market participants, such as Coca Cola, Unilever, Shell, FrieslandCampina, Zandbergen World's Finest Meat, Nutreco and AgriFirm.

Solidaridad director Nico Roozen sees unique opportunities for linking this programme to the development of payment for environmental services. “Farmers should be rewarded for preserving forest areas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Preventing deforestation is one of the most effective and cheapest ways of achieving climate and biodiversity targets. According to Roozen, this creates a new dynamic in which nature conservation goes hand in hand with more sustainable cultivation methods. Such an approach can secure the livelihoods of producers in developing countries, food supplies for the growing world population and the conservation of nature for future generations.

1 Participating Round Tables for sustainable products
Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Bonsucro Better Sugar Cane Initiative
Better Cotton Initiative
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

For more information or an interview with Nico Roozen, please contact:
Bram Verkerke, press officer, T: +31 (0)30 272 0313 E: