Farmers’ organisations are Rikolto’s main stakeholders in Africa, Latin America and Asia. We support them both in their institutional and business development, and in their activities to change the general business environment in their countries. With each of the partner organisations that receives money from us, we conclude a cooperation agreement, and a yearly partner contract, linked to the action plan for that year.
Farmers’ organisations, their members and communities
Each year, we give an overview of all our international and Belgian donors in our annual report. Without these donors, Rikolto would not exist. We can break them down into the following categories:
- Development Cooperation by governments
- Foundations and NGOs
- Donations from private individuals
- In-kind donors
Private companies are important partners in the accomplishment of Rikolto’s mission. If we wish to change food systems and the way specific agricultural chains function, we have to involve companies in our activities. We believe that companies are a driving force for society and we believe that they can contribute to sustainable development.
Over the years – and we will continue investing in this – we have often taken the initiative to gather companies, NGOs and other actors such as governments and scientific institutions around one table. This can be done through networks, for example, but is also often the result of direct relationships. We talk with companies, experiment and exchange knowledge about both our role and their role in the agricultural chain and family farming in general.
According to Rikolto, companies have two types of leverage. On the one hand, they can supply more sustainably from farmers’ organisations. On the other hand, companies can also invest in the development of sustainable family farming by, for example, providing credit within the chain, by concluding stable contracts, by co-investing in farm cooperatives, etc.
Nevertheless, we are not naive. We know that some companies window-dress in many ways in their marketing. We know there is still a lot of greenwashing. However, we especially want to look forward and set up innovative projects, including with the frontrunners of the corporate world who apply the principles of socially responsible entrepreneurship in their core activities.
Governments are responsible for the frameworks within which family farming can be developed: rural infrastructure, agricultural research and education as well as legislation. Legislation to protect, for example, farmland from speculation and (foreign) big investors, to limit monopolies of wholesalers and distributors, etc. Good legislation can, however, also stimulate the development of farmers’ organisations, or motivate banks to offer agricultural loans.
Knowledge centres such as universities, colleges and research institutions not only focus on research, knowledge building and dissemination, but also play an important role in (co-)innovation. By participating in networks with companies, governments and NGOs, the knowledge institutions can have a better sense of the needs of society. Furthermore, such cooperation enables swifter application of new knowledge.
Volunteers and social base in Belgium
The average age of farmers (f/m) worldwide is about 60. If we want our agriculture to have a future, we need to open up opportunities for young people in agrifood systems? Overall, Rikolto pays special attention to increasing the participation of young people in the governance of the farmer organisations, and to finding new job opportunities for them throughout the value chain, setting up their own enterprises. In 2019, this took a central spot in our work in Central and South America, Indonesia, East-Africa, West-Africa and Belgium.
NGOs and networks
Rikolto works together with a lot of civil society stakeholders to achieve its mission. We are also active in many organisations and networks of organisations that work towards a more sustainable food system, and defend the interest of farmers’ families worldwide. We are member of the following networks.
As cities across the world are growing at staggering rates, the need for food chains that are inclusive for urban consumers becomes all the clearer. At Rikolto, we are supporting cities worldwide to spearhead initiatives that make food systems more sustainable. We do this by bringing different stakeholders together around the table and enabling them to turn policies into inclusive actions. As such, we strive for food systems that offer decent incomes to those who produce our food, but that also ensure affordable, healthy and sustainable food for every consumer.
Rikolto wants to be a reliable resource for journalists concerning topics that relate to sustainable agriculture and food.
Naturally, all Rikolto staff are important stakeholders as well. Regular internal briefings provide information flow and feedback to colleagues. In Belgium, we give our ex-staff members the opportunity to be part of our General Assembly.