Solidaridad South and South-East Asia provides scalable and economically effective sustainability solutions in agriculture and mining sectors in collaboration with governments, businesses and the community. Solidaridad aims to drive sustainability from niche to norm in Asian markets and among Asian producers in a way that can sustain people, planet and profits.
Producing more food with fewer natural resources to meet ever-rising and evolving demand is emerging as the ultimate challenge for South and South-East Asia. Pressures on land, water, and energy resources are increasing due to competing claims. Moreover, the average farm sizes are growing smaller, and availability of farmland is becoming scarce.
Governments across South and South-East Asia have become pro-active in increasing farm productivity through optimum utilisation of scarce resources. The Indian government’s initiatives towards “more crop per drop”, Indonesian government’s efforts towards reducing deforestation and Bangladesh government’s policies towards agricultural exports are clear signs pointing in this direction. Governments and sector organizations in South-East Asia have an increasing stake in the long-term competitiveness and productivity of their essential commodities: to generate jobs, provide food security and maintain export revenues. Solidaridad is partnering with governments in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh to support this agenda.
The sustainability discourse in the region is driven through locally developed and owned standards. The Indian government actively supports the Trustea standard for tea. The Indonesian government is working on a presidential decree to make Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) an independent entity. The Malaysian government made Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification mandatory by 2019. Solidaridad is actively supporting in implementing these schemes in all the three countries.
South and South-East Asia faces a challenge of two kinds. It is home to the world's largest middle-class population, and yet poverty is not wiped out of the region. Using a revised World Bank benchmark of poverty at $3.20 and accounting for food insecurity and vulnerability, the estimated poverty rate would be significant in the region. Not only that, but the increased consumption by the middle-class is putting a huge demand on agriculture.
Smaller land size, the unorganized nature of farming, reduced availability of water for agriculture, rapidly degrading farmland and impacts of climate change are making agriculture a less desirable option for farmers. For example, India is losing more than 2,000 farmers every single day since 1991 and the young generation does not find farming to be a profitable career choice in most cases.
Producing more food with fewer natural resources to meet the ever-rising and evolving demand is the ultimate challenge for the region in the coming decades. With a growing income and more mouths to feed, pressures on land, water, and energy resources are increasing.
Over last decade, Solidaridad has pioneered development and implementation of national sustainability standards in the region. Together with partners, it has founded the Teh-Lestari standard for tea in Indonesia in 2011 and the Trustea standard for the Indian tea industry in 2013. These sustainability standards are now dominant in both the countries with more than 400 million kilos verified supporting 350,000 workers (50% women) and 40,258 smallholders.
Solidaridad has placed emphasis on regional cooperation for an Asian consensus between India, Indonesia and China on sustainability issues. These two countries are the biggest producer or consumer of most of the commodities in which Solidaridad is active. Solidaridad is now facilitating joint programmes in these three countries on sustainable palm oil, industrial minerals and tea focussed towards attaining SDG targets.
Supported by the Embassy of Netherlands, the regional office runs one of the largest food security and market development programme - SaFaL in Bangladesh. It has so far helped 57,000 smallholder farmer families to become successful agricultural entrepreneurs while addressing their food security. In its next phase, the programme will be scaled up to 100,000 families.
Climate change related challenges like watershed management, land use planning, deforestation, biodiversity and degraded land cannot be solved at producer or supply chain level only. Thatś why Solidaridad has initiated programmes around the mid-Ganges river basin in India, Merapi Volcano in Indonesia and Sundarbans in Bangladesh that will support at least half a million farmers. Our approach is to develop a shared understanding of the main problems with the stakeholders to reach cooperative solutions.
A pioneer in leather
In India, Solidaridad ventured into the global leather sector by choosing Kanpur-Unnao leather cluster to make a real contribution to the "CLEAN GANGA" project. For this intervention, Solidaridad conceptualized a potential project to strengthen the value chain of the Kanpur-Unnao leather cluster through building capacities of relevant stakeholders on eco-friendly and innovative technologies. The project would also establish a few pilots to demonstrate the value of best practices.
Inspiring sustainable practices
Together with key industry stakeholders, Solidaridad has instituted the “India Sustainable Tea program” called “Trustea” since July 2013. The Tea Board of India (TBOI), IDH, Unilever, Tata Global Beverages (TGB), Wagh Bakri, Rainforest Alliance and the Ethical Tea Partnership are the key partners in the programme.
Moving beyond certification
Solidaridad’s sugarcane programme strategy is embedded in the local reality. The model of Solidaridad builds on an aligned agenda driven by a strong business case for producers, processors and end users. The programme not only allows buyers to move beyond their immediate supply chain but also diversify their base of sustainable suppliers while addressing the most critical issues faced by sugarcane farming sector in India.
Solidaridad has been supporting smallholder soy producers in India since 2009. It does so by promoting sustainability principles with coalitions of partners, including governments and businesses. Solidaridad strategies are based on a combination of good agricultural practices and robust rural infrastructures integrated with market solutions to develop “proof of concepts” for scale and impact investments.
- Palm oil
Sustainable and inclusive
Palm oil has been a source of significant livelihood improvements for many rural communities in Indonesia and Malaysia. Demand for palm oil from India and China is growing rapidly given their population and economic growth. Solidaridad is aiming for improving sustainability performances for inclusive and long-term sustainability of palm oil sector in Asia through better inclusion of smallholders, sustainable production and trade while safeguarding the environmental value.
Promoting responsible practices
Solidaridad and Unilever developed the Code for Responsible Extraction (CORE) to address issues in the mining industry. It is one of the first independently auditable global codes for minerals at the extraction site, supported by leading companies and civil society organizations.
- Fruit & Vegetables
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.
The white gold revolution
The dairy industry in Bangladesh is transforming with the economic growth and the demand of a growing population. The dairy production in Bangladesh largely depends on the smallholders, engaged in subsistence farming. They can hardly supply quality and quantity of milk to meet the demand of the dairy industry.
Improving sustainable business
Aquaculture is the most important sub-sector of Bangladesh providing 60% of the animal protein intake, food security, poverty reduction and export earnings. Bangladesh is the fifth largest aquaculture producing country in the world.
Globally, around 33 million hectares are planted with cotton, out of which 12 million hectares are in India. Cotton is a very important fibre crop for India as it provides the basic raw material to cotton textile industry. India has nine major cotton producing states and Solidaridad has been working on improving the cotton since 2004 by promoting the use of both organic cotton and BCI cotton projects initially in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. It then gradually expanded its scope of work to other states as well.
Scaling up impacts
The focus of Solidaridad’s textiles programme in South and South-East Asia is to prove and scale up established best practices among large established textile producers while seeking to guide sustainable development of the sector among emerging producers.
The sustainable soy programme in India successfully supported 80,085 smallholders in major soy growing provinces covering 93,154 hectares of area under socially and environmentally sustainable soy in lines with RTRS principles. Solidaridad is convening the national platform for sustainable soy in India. Please watch the short video on Solidaridad Soy programme here. Also, read the 2015 cover article in Business Standard on the programme here.
Solidaridad initiated an ambitious programme on responsible mineral extraction together with Unilever. A Code for Responsible Extraction (CORE) was jointly developed and is one of the first independently auditable global codes for minerals at the extraction site, supported by leading companies as well as civil society organizations. Verification under CORE offers a globally acceptable and credible assurance to buyers and other stakeholders that the industrial minerals are extracted in a responsible way.
Blog: Ethical branding - overpromise and underdeliver?
In this month's blog, Solidaridad Executive Director Nico Roozen takes a look at the history and pitfalls of sustainability labels which he has been directly involved in over the past 30 years.
Farmers in Thailand share sustainability solutions with Indonesian experts
The Solidaridad Indonesia team and the Keling Kumang Group (KKG) went on a field visit to the Krabi Oil-Palm Farmers’ Cooperative Federation in Thailand (KOFCF) in March.
15 bright ideas reach round two of Aquaculture Innovation Challenge
After the first round of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge (AIC), hosted by Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), Solidaridad and Fresh Studio, 15 innovation plans have been chosen for round tw
Local workshops engage community leaders to increase sustainability awareness
In an effort to increase knowledge of sustainability issues in areas where it is most needed, Solidaridad and Oil Palm Farmers’ Union (SPKS Sintang) carried out a full-day workshop on Sustainable Palm
Solidaridad works to close gender gap among farmers in Bangladesh
Female farmers in the Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL) programme in Bangladesh are becoming examples of how gender inclusive approaches to sustainable agriculture can benefi
Solidaridad opens new office in Indonesia with Keling Kumang Group
“Borneo with no poverty” is the guiding vision behind Solidaridad’s cooperation and expansion in Indonesia.