Guest article by SAFE – Did you know that more than half the food in Latin America comes from 14 million smallholder farmers across the region?
Despite their key role in global food markets, many of them face strong challenges that prevent them from entering global value chains.
These farmers are also vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and their crops are more exposed to degrade as a result of this phenomenon.
Recent research such as Oxfam’s Feeding Climate Change, What the Paris Agreement means for food and beverage companies, tells us that the moment to act is now.
And that’s exactly what 16 organizations and corporations decided to do.
Action is Safe
The Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment (SAFE) Platform was created to support coffee and cocoa farmers, analyze and improve the way we do business.
We are talking about a multi-stakeholder platform funded by the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), managed by Hivos and co-supported by 14 other partners including Solidaridad Network, Rainforest Alliance, The Coalition for Coffee Communities, S&D Coffee & Tea, Farmers Brothers Co., Root Capital, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Grameen Foundation, Keurig Green Mountain Inc., ECOM Trading, Starbucks Coffee Company, Sustainable Commodity Assistance Network (SCAN), COSA and Hans R. Neumann Foundation.
This 5 year initiative was launched this year with an expected total investment of US24 million for the entire region.
There are two ongoing, already successful projects: Blue Harvest, implemented by Catholic Relief Services with the support of Keurig Green Mountain aimed on water management in coffee plantations in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras and a project in the Colombian Andean region that works on capacity building and credit access for smallholder farmers, implemented by Grameen Foundation and Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes (COOPERAN).
These two initial projects have the goal of reaching 5500 smallholder farmers and more than 40% of them are women.
Multi-Stakeholder Platforms… Again?
Yes and no.
Much has been said about the failure of public-private platforms and the way they pretend to do much more than they actually do without a genuine interest in making change.
This great analysis published by Open Society Foundations is a good, serious example of this point of view and we must say that we agree with it now more than ever.
What Makes a Difference?
The platform’s vision is aligned with Hivos’ vision of how change should happen: By believing in the power of people.
This human rights approach means that we also want to put people at the center and understand why we do business the way we do and what it is that needs to be done to secure fair relations, improve value chain processes, improve smallholder farmers’ conditions and create a knowledge platform with all these experiences and impacts, which build stronger networks and drive a more coordinated action from the private and public stakeholders in the sector.
That’s the reason why our projects, both the ones that are under development and all the ones that are about to be launched, work on chain development, financial access, capacity building, climate-smart agriculture, inclusion of young people and women in all processes, access to market information, quality control standards, diversification techniques, public-private collaboration promotion in scalable programs, introduction of innovative tools and approaches and access to technological advances.
There are two types of SAFE initiatives: Individual SAFE Projects will be developed in one to three years with a maximum grant funding from MIF of US$1 million, together with a co-funding provided by the executing partner.
Small Interventions should be developed in one year –although, there could be some exceptions- with a total investment of US$140k, with a 40% fund by MIF and complemented with counterpart funds.
Anyone can participate with a SAFE project call as long as they submit their proposal along with one of the SAFE Platform’s 16 partners, mentioned above.
Project call recently closed but will reopen in November 2016, specific dates and details will be posted soon at www.safeplatform.org. A new call will open on July 2017.
Do we know for sure that Latin America’s agriculture will be transformed due to this platform? We don’t, but we will do our best to make sure it happens, because our dream is to live in a safe planet.