Southern Africa

With the global population set to double in the coming decades, Southern Africa’s expansive arable land gives the region potential to become a centre of agricultural production and contributor to improved food security. Solidaridad is working to provide access to finance, integrated technology, and widespread adoption of good practices.
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Where We Work

Solidaridad manages programmes in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 218 million people live in extreme poverty, with the majority of the region’s populations living in rural areas and dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.



farmers with increased income


farmers trained


farmers benefit from improved services


Unsustainable practices

Southern Africa faces economic, climatic and physical challenges, such as variable rainfall combined with unsustainable agricultural practices. These issues cause the degradation of the soil and water resource base, upon which future agricultural output in Southern Africa depends.

Unsustainable agriculture causes huge economic losses in some countries within the region. It leads to a decline in agricultural production, a loss of food security, mass migration, rapid urbanization and an increased need for governments to import food.

Ineffective resource management in remote regions leaves smallholder producers unable to access or invest in external inputs to improve their livelihoods and help remedy unsustainable land use. Despite significant economic growth over recent years, the benefits of  these investments in the region have mostly excluded the rural poor.

The effects of climate change are being felt around the world, and Southern Africa is no exception. With more severe weather events and few safeguards in place to protect against the impacts, smallholders are left particularly vulnerable.


A holistic approach to sustainability

Southern Africa has experienced significant economic growth over recent years. However, the benefits of these investments have mostly excluded the rural poor. Opportunities have arisen for smallholders to feed into local supply chains, but support is needed. For example, access to services to apply better practices to ensure that produce meets international standards.

Making connections across the supply chain is key to increasing incomes and making farming a viable source of income to support families and communities. Solidaridad has supported smallholders to produce and supply Heineken with local, sustainable barley.

Improving livelihoods goes beyond the technicalities of farming and the individual farmer. Our Farmer Support Programme in Swaziland trained smallholder sugarcane producers in business skills and natural resource management, improving smallholders’ income and the number of areas under sustainable land use.

Digital solutions that build on existing tools and engage farming and mining communities on multiple levels are gaining traction. They are supplying better information for producers and actors along the supply chain.


Sustainable smallholder agriculture

In 2023, Solidaridad Southern Africa saw progress as it innovatively advanced sustainable smallholder agriculture. This included ongoing advocacy through the RECLAIM Sustainability! programme, the Pathways to Prosperity programme launch, and full implementation of the Bill & Melinda Gates funded Kvuno initiative in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Malawi emerged as a focal country, benefiting from increased resources, resulting in a 205 percent increase in supported farmers.

Digital solutions

The Southern Africa team managed to enhance dialogues on policy issues affecting the cotton, tea and Africa foods supply chains and initiate the implementation of a good practices standard in Mozambique. Kitovu, our digital technology hub, continues to design, test and deploy digital solutions across sub-Saharan Africa.

Agroforestry Southern Africa

Moving toward our vision

In 2021 we continued with our holistic approach that supports smallholder farmers through every step of the value chain. With more farmers trained in climate-smart practices, and greater resources on the market and policy level, we’re moving closer to our vision of a fair and sustainable supply chain.

Tangible impact

Through the Practice for Change project, more than 36,000 smallholder farmers were supported to adopt good agricultural practices, while the LI-SAF project helped to bring over 60,000 hectares under sustainable management. Direct training for producers was complemented by policy work that engaged 145 stakeholders across 16 multi-stakeholder platforms, and 20 civil society organizations with capacity building and advocacy.

A new vision

We helped craft a new continental vision for Africa, and convened a dialogue on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Implementation initiatives continued on the ground, while political turmoil and climate change-related events devastated smallholder farmers’ livelihoods. We brought more than triple our target of land under good agricultural practices, worked with the FAO and internal partners to rebuild lives after Cyclone Idai, and grew our gender-inclusive Soy programme.

Exploring opportunities

Southern Africa is a food-importing region and imports have been growing in recent years due to economic growth. Expansion of the middle and upper classes in Africa will continue and it presents a huge opportunity for local farmers and entrepreneurs. Linking the economic growth of the cities to opportunities in rural Africa is a major challenge for the years ahead. Solidaridad Southern Africa is exploring how to make the most of this opportunity.

A strong position

Solidaridad Southern Africa has experienced an exciting year of learning and growth. The team has expanded, which has improved its expertise of critical innovation areas. A number of programmes were concluded in 2017 and this provided great opportunity for reflection. Going forward, Solidaridad is well-poised to take its strengthened team, new insights and learning, and embark on programmes in key commodities across the region.

Smallholder inclusion

Climate change had devastating effects on the region with Southern Africa experiencing its second rain-scarce season, leaving over 29 million people food insecure. With the majority of these populations living in rural areas and reliant on natural resources, addressing climate change through the inclusion of smallholder farmers and promotion of sustainable agriculture practices is at the forefront of Solidaridad’s mission.

Navigating challenges

Solidaridad Southern Africa had a very interesting and challenging year. There was a major internal change at senior management level while external economic, environmental and sociopolitical conditions were rapidly changing in the focus countries. These changes were driven by the shifts in global markets and the effects of climate change. Solidaridad continued its work in the cotton, fruits, vegetables, livestock, sugarcane and soy sectors.

Regional Programmes

Accessing the market

The horticulture programme aims to contribute to the upskilling and commercialization of smallholder producers in the sector in Southern Africa. With the goal of improving local and regional market integration and coordination along the horticulture value chain, partnerships with supermarket chains in the region have been initiated and strengthened with a focus on how best to reach smallholder producers at their level and need, to ensure inclusivity in the value chain.

Supporting good agriculture

Much like other regions of the world, smallholder soy producers in Southern Africa often suffer from low productivity. Solidaridad’s soy programme began in an effort to address this challenge and improve smallholders’ livelihoods and sustainable farming practices. The first project began in Mozambique in 2012 with the goal of improving smallholder production management, thereby increasing productivity and improving soil conservation.

Learning livestock management

While a growing middle class in the Southern African region has led to a steady growth in the demand for animal protein, livestock producers have faced significant challenges in terms of the drought that has affected the region for the past couple of years. The livestock programme aims to support livestock producers to improve management that can increase productivity and efficiency while simultaneously helping to reverse land degradation that has occurred across the region from unsustainable grazing patterns.

Producing sustainable cotton

In Mozambique, Solidaridad has successfully worked with one of the largest cotton producing companies, João Ferreira dos Santos (JFS), since 2012 to ensure smallholder cotton producers are equipped to produce more sustainable cotton. As the programme has grown, Solidaridad has focussed on improving infrastructure and the application of innovative cultivation techniques to enhance smallholder yields and better environmental management.

Inclusive tea value chain

Solidaridad contributes to a responsible and inclusive global tea value chain that ensures value is distributed fairly, smallholder tea farmers and workers benefit from decent working conditions, and tea is produced with respect to the environment. In Malawi and Mozambique, we assess, strengthen and establish MSPs where civil society is present, in engaging partnerships, thought leadership, advocacy and campaigns against harmful corporate culture and detrimental norms. We use the power of collective action for sustainable, transformational change in dialogues and engagements with workers unions, growers associations, processors and relevant departments and other decision makers.

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Get in touch

Want to know more about our work in Southern Africa? Get in touch with our team.

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1st Floor, 25 Sturdee Avenue
Rosebank, 2196
South Africa

+27 (0) 11 591 1200

Shungu Kanyemba
Managing Director, Solidaridad Southern Africa

Mohau Mailula
Communications Manager

Continental Supervisory Board


Top row, left to right: Herman Kasekende, Susan Wacheke, Shungu Kanyemba, Isaac Gyamfi
Bottom row, left to right: Gilles Attaye, Rachel Wanyoike, Olivia Agbenyega

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Francisco Nhanale

Mozambique Country Manager

Sheila Garakara

Zambia Country Manager