Central America

Solidaridad builds synergies, market connections and the sustainability of major commodities with our sustainable landscape approach across Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. We also work to ensure good agricultural practices, fair working conditions and inclusive supply chains.
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Where We Work

Across Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, smallholder farmers and large industrial agriculture are competing for land and market space. At the same time, international demand for more sustainable sugarcane, palm oil, cacao, coffee and livestock is increasing. We work with producers, processing mills and commodity traders to strengthen the social, environmental and occupational health performance in the production of these important crops.

Commodities

79,035

farmers and workers trained to adopt good practices

579,069

hectares under sustainable management

23+

local platforms or producer groups established and strengthened

Challenges

Adverse conditions for the already vulnerable

Social exclusion, decent work, outdated land-use practices and lack of access to credit are just a few of the critical challenges Solidaridad is addressing. In collaboration with diverse partners, we build awareness, capacity, and deliver solutions to promote change that matters.

Community members who can, want and need to contribute to social and economic growth and production are often excluded based on gender, socio-economic class, geographical location, cultural background and age.

The region has long suffered from high levels of social conflict, corruption and political unrest, limiting regional economic growth. This ongoing, long-term socio-political crisis, in addition to historical gaps in governance, has forced thousands of people to flee extreme violence, political repression and poverty.

Producers, industry and communities are increasingly vulnerable to a changing climate. Unpredictable rainfall patterns have led to widespread water access crises and crop failure. Changes in climate and the subsequent expansion of unsustainable agricultural production have decreased soil fertility, productivity and farmers’ income. Farmers have been forced from traditional farming areas, leading them to encroach on fragile, protected or communal areas, and to abandon their farms and families in search of better opportunities.

Outdated land-use practices, and mismanaged and declining water resources threaten crops. This places undue stress on community well-being as multiple actors compete for scarce resources. There are few successful examples of collective, multi-stakeholder collaboration and investments to restore watersheds and riparian zones that provide multiple benefits to multiple stakeholders.

There are few economic development opportunities in the region due to limited development and infrastructure investment. Investments in various sectors of the economy are currently reduced or postponed while the political outlook stabilizes.

Smallholders often obtain lower yields due to a lack of knowledge on good farming practices and this translates to lower incomes. In addition, most of their farming systems are not resilient enough to deal with extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change. Small scale producers can also struggle to meet certification requirements.

Solutions

Partnerships and collaboration

Our partnerships in the region focus on sustainable social, economical and environmental improvements. We have strong relationships with national government actors, the private sector and civil society organizations.  We are considered the go-to partner in the design and implementation of large-scale initiatives  with an integrated landscape management approach.

Thanks to our MESA  initiative (Accelerating Living Landscapes across Mesoamerica), Solidaridad Central America has become the partner of choice for governments, the private sector, multilateral organizations and local civil society organizations. We facilitate, co-design and implement visionary, enduring, multi-beneficiary solutions and the transition to a circular, regenerative economy.

Solidaridad develops digital tools in the field that empower farmers, provide critical data to the private sector and validate best practices trends. In the case of Farm Diary, for example, multiple private sector companies and government stakeholders are adopting the tool through a fee-for-service model.

The agricultural sector is under increasing pressure to tackle  growing concern over hunger and economic deprivation. People’s capacity to be effective and productive economic agents is key to improving their livelihoods. And capacity building is central to efficient food production, as well as rural development, especially for developing countries.

PanameriCaña’s fee-for-service model has become the norm for technical assistance provision to sugar mills. This model has great promise for other sectors and areas, such as specialized support for the implementation of gender-inclusive policies, and payment for ecosystem services schemes. Solidaridad is uniquely positioned to provide pre- and post-investment services for financial institutions seeking to increase their impact through inclusive business models.

Solidaridad has implemented sustainable practices with over 80% of the Mesoamerican palm oil sector, from smallholders to processors. We provide valuable insight for the market and accelerate the transition to making Mesoamerican the premier global source for sustainable palm oil. For example, via the multi-stakeholder palm oil Zero-Deforestation Declaration negotiations we facilitated in Honduras.

Our regional cocoa programme supports good practices and agroforestry systems that contribute to food security and the development of sustainable productive landscapes. This programme also seeks facilitate training and alliances that provide smallholders with tools  to add value to their product and run their own business, thereby improving their livelihoods.

Achievements

Stakeholder collaboration

We signed multiple agreements with government, private sector and civil society organizations in 2019, and led the development of high-impact landscape programmes such as the Zero Deforestation Declaration in Honduras. Ongoing drought spotlighted our climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives. MESA, our integrated landscape management strategy, drove the development of business models for landscape transformation.

Growing in action and vision

In 2018, Solidaridad Central America continued to grow in action and vision. We deepened impact in our anchor commodity programmes (palm oil, sugarcane, cocoa, coffee and livestock), and leveraged successes in regional commodity platforms to expand our vision to landscape-level interventions. Partnerships have grown to include additional smallholders’ associations and groups, private-sector actors, as well as philanthropic and potential impact investors. We are putting in place the foundations to facilitate a paradigm shift in the region toward regenerative landscapes, and long-term financing to support them. Our aim is sustainable economic and commodity growth that includes responsible natural resource management and inclusive opportunities for social well-being.

New business models

In 2017, regional commodity-based multi-stakeholder platforms and sustainable landscape initiatives in Honduras and Nicaragua matured under the leadership of a strengthened and professionalized Solidaridad team. Innovations were integrated in impact investment, digital technology, gender inclusion, and climate solutions. Solidaridad introduced new business models to meet the growing demand for guidance and support from the private sector, government and civil society organizations.

Optimizing sector transformation

Solidaridad Central America leveraged experience and relationships built over the past five years to launch regional platforms that create flows of information and innovation to optimize sector transformation of key commodities. Solidaridad also encouraged sharing successful solutions among sectors, boosting capital flows, and accelerating and increasing the impact of sustainable and inclusive practices, including youth participation and gender equity.

Proven innovation

Measurable results, proven innovation, published research and increased international visibility led to strengthened multi-actor engagement in multiple sectors. The stage was set for upscaling interventions at national and regional levels. Sectors moved from farm to landscape in continual improvement schemes. Efficiency and leverage matter as good practices are increasingly considered “business as usual.”

Expanding sustainability standards

Pilot projects for palm oil in Honduras and Guatemala and for sugarcane in Mexico have expanded as sustainability standards were shown to be both attainable and effective for all stakeholders. By the end of the year, producers and processors throughout the region were asking to participate.

Regional Programmes

From bean to bar

In Nicaragua, Solidaridad worked with BICU University to develop the first agroforestry cocoa diploma, giving priority participation to women and youth, while n Honduras, members of the national network of women in cocoa and chocolate learned to process and market cocoa products, leading to the launch of several women-led enterprises.

MAPA  — Mesoamerican Palm Oil Alliance

Mexico and Central America are considered to be a promising new frontier for oil palm expansion as the availability of suitable land in Malaysia and Indonesia becomes increasingly limited and global demand for palm oil continues to grow. Palm oil is by far the most productive of crop-derived oils, and can actually represent an improvement in ecological function if plantations are established on degraded lands.

PanameriCaña — Sustainable Sugarcane Platform

Sugarcane is one of the fastest-growing commodities across Mexico and Central America.  Solidaridad has partnered with the region´s leading sugarcane producers to launch PanAmericaña, a multi-stakeholder platform of sugar mills across Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras to improve production, labour conditions and standards across the industry.

Coffee platforms in Honduras and Nicaragua

This initiative aims to transform the coffee sector in Honduras and Nicaragua through the identification of a national joint agenda for sustainability.  Solidaridad has launched these two national platforms in partnership with Rainforest Alliance, the Global Coffee Platform and Rikolto.

Change that matters with partners who care. Find out what we can achieve together.

Get in touch

Want to know more about our work in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean? Get in touch with our team.


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21 Avenida 3-44 Zona 14
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
+502 2366 6565
info-cam@solidaridadnetwork.org

Michaelyn Bachhuber Baur

Managing Director, Solidaridad Central America

michaelyn@solidaridadnetwork.org

Alissa Moen

Development Manager

alissa@solidaridadnetwork.org

Valery Cohn Berger

Communications Manager

valery.cohn@solidaridadnetwork.org

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