Annual Report

This was 2017...

How can we guarantee that coming generations retain access to affordable quality food? This is the central question throughout our work. At the moment, small-scale farmers produce 70% of all the food in the world. If we do not appropriately include them in food markets and as such improve their social and economic position, it will be impossible to achieve global change. Change on a global scale demands that food systems become more inclusive and offer value to all actors in the food chain.

Rikolto (formerly known as VECO/Vredeseilanden) is ready to meet this challenge. The global change we want to achieve, focuses on three strategic priorities. Creating the collaborative space for our stakeholders to develop answers to the challenges facing the future of our food is an essential part of Rikolto’s DNA.

Partner organisations

Most of our interventions still directly target members of farmers’ organisations. In 2017, Rikolto funded 87 partner organisations (farmer organisations and NGOs) in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Over 70,000 men and 36,000 women received our support. In many cases, however, more farmers are involved during collective sales. Moreover, it is an inherent part of our strategy to achieve policy or system changes within companies, at commodity sector level and in national legislation, and to encourage other organisations and governments to replicate successful experiences on a much larger scale, so that multiple farming families benefit from our interventions.

Planning, Learning and Accountability

Rikolto engages comprehensively in Planning, Learning and Accountability (PLA) through a monitoring and evaluation system that mainly aims to learn from successes and failures. The PLA system provides a framework for the systematic collection of data and the use of this data for continuous programme adjustments. Moreover, PLA also seeks to stimulate critical reflection internally, among colleagues working in similar interventions across the globe and with external stakeholders.

Every three years, we carry out a comprehensive impact assessment of our development programmes. For each of the product chains in which we work (rice, coffee, etc.), we seek to ascertain whether the farmers concerned have been able to increase their income, whether their organisations have developed better entrepreneurial skills, how sector policies changed in favour of smallscale farmers. We have made an effort to display these results transparently and comprehensibly in the form of graphs.

Go to the graphs

Network organisation

Our organisational and governance structure has undergone a total makeover and we have become an international network organisation, effective as of 1 January 2017. Almost a year later, we also changed our brand name from Vredeseilanden/VECO to Rikolto.  Both moves have been made to help us to be better prepared and better able to deal with the many challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors, now and in the future. Read more...

People and Organisation

In 2017, Rikolto had 155 employees worldwide. Over the years, the male-female ratio has become more balanced, which is a positive trend. Next to our employees, many people are volunteering for us, mainly in Belgium.

The International Board of Directors recently reviewed our Code of Conduct and reconfirmed its validity. The Code contains sections on anti-bribery, anti-fraud and anti-discrimination. However, having a policy is one thing. It is more important to strive for an organisational culture that prevents this kind of behaviour from happening.  

If any staff member encounters unwanted, unethical or unlawful behaviour, is the victim of discrimination, or has other serious problems with one of his/her colleagues, he/she can contact a confidential adviser (one in every office). This is clearly set out in our work regulations. If an adviser receives a complaint, he/she tries to mediate. If mediation is not successful, a formal complaints procedure can be initiated. The confidential advisers received no complaints in the past year.

Our ecological footprint

Travelling by air is still necessary for our operations, but we are aware that this considerably increases our ecological footprint. In 2017 we identified the following key travel principles, which were approved by the International Management Team: 

  • Flying is the last resort. Rikolto staff should always look first for alternatives to travelling by plane. 
  • When considering the options, look at distance, but also time. Sometimes travelling by car or public transport takes too long and can be exhausting. Travel time for staff should be taken into account, as it might significantly reduce the time available for programme activities.
  • If you fly, you compensate. We always carbon offset the trips made by our staff. Non-staff are invited to do the same.

From 2018 onwards, we will expand carbon offsetting on flights from Belgium to all flights by our staff worldwide. Compensation will be paid into one common fund and will be used in a project aimed at climate change mitigation. For this year, the sustainability working group decided to allocate the money to a project in Vietnam aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in rice production.


Ecological sustainability in our programmes

Our interventions and activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America not only have an impact on the living conditions of farming families; they also have consequences for soil fertility, the use of water, emission of certain greenhouse gases, etc. As an organisation working closely with farmer organisations, we have to make decisions day by day to respond to changes in our environment. Each time new questions arise on what the "true sustainable choice" would be. As one might expect, there are no easy answers.

Therefore we formulated our position on some specific questions and issues that our colleagues encounter in their efforts to build sustainable agricultural chains. We also incorporated the environmental scoring tool into the farmer survey that was carried out in every region in 2017.

We now know the bottlenecks and key issues relating to environmental sustainability at the level of the farmers, farmers’ organisations and the broader landscape. This is the first time that we have had such a detailed overview of the many different aspects of environmental sustainability in our programmes.

Mianne Van der Biest Sustainability Advisor

Global Reporting Initiative

In our reporting, we follow the tailored guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative Sector Supplement for NGOs. The complete overview of all GRI indicators is included at the end of our annual report.

Some years back, Rikolto decided to report according to the sustainability framework of the Global Reporting Initiative. Because we expect from the companies we work with that their actions and impact will become more sustainable, and we therefore firmly believe that we should walk the talk. GRI presents a common framework that helps us to show the outside world how we perform and how we want to improve

Chris Claes Executive co-director