In eastern Congo, Rikolto (previously Vredeseilanden/VECO) launched a large-scale programme in 2014 on coffee. The aim is to improve coffee quality and set up four new cooperatives to service the demanding export markets. Within a year the coffee farmers had built more than 50 processing centres, called washing stations, in which to efficiently pulp, wash and dry their coffee beans. Years later, there are over 100 washing stations operational. Consequently, the new cooperatives are able to supply the specialty coffee market. They have already taken top honours in the Taste of Harvest competition, and exported over 10 containers of high quality coffee so far.
In Nicaragua, the 351 cocoa farmers of La Campesina landed their first major contract in 2014: they sold 157 tonnes of high-quality cocoa beans to the German chocolate company Ritter Sport. By 2016, La Campesina had successfully diversified and built up commercial relations with three major cocoa buyers - Ritter Sport, Éthiquable and Daarnhouwer. As a result of their commitment to quality and business capacity trainings facilitated by Rikolto, La Campesina has now become economically viable through the income it generates from selling cocoa to export markets.
Rikolto (previously VECO) was the first NGO in Indonesia to work with Mars Food to train ‘cocoa doctors’. This venture stems from the relationship of trust that has developed between Mars Food and Rikolto over the years. Rikolto staff select potential cocoa doctors; Mars provides them with the necessary technical training to enable them to become professional service providers to the cocoa farmers in their community, distributing fertiliser and planting material, and giving production and business-related training. The farmers have set up a price information system, which means that they receive the world market price on their mobile phone every day. There are clear price agreements between the farmers and Mars. The farmers themselves wrote the script for the film above, in which they explain how their lives have changed in the past few years.
In Vietnam, vegetable farmer groups, the Vietnamese consumer organisation and Rikolto have established a system of participatory certification for ‘safe’ vegetables (grown with proper and limited use of pesticides). This is a system in which producers and their customers work together to guarantee quality. As a result, there is no need to pay external certification costs, which are usually too expensive for smallholders. Farmers’ incomes have doubled in some areas (wider range of produce, more visibility in local market). With support from the Vietnamese government, the participatory certification system has now been extended to other provinces.
In Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin, women have improved their economic and social position by processing rice into a higher value product (parboiled rice). In recent years there has been a strong focus on improving quality (fewer stones, black tips and broken grains) and processing hygiene. The women’s earnings have risen and almost all of the extra money goes toward household expenditure on healthy food, school fees and medical care.
In Peru, Mobile Cupping has been a success story: young and old coffee farmers managed to significantly improve the quality of their coffee and cocoa and the approach is currently being replicated by other institutions such as municipalities, associations and cooperatives.
In Vietnam, we have successfully tried out new partnerships between tea farmers and the Phu Ha tea company. Not only do the farmers have a more stable income, the factory is also guaranteed a sufficient supply of high-quality tea leaves. Vredeseilanden has also trained 1,643 farmers to apply the criteria of the Rainforest Alliance label in their work practices. This helps them produce larger quantities of fresh, top-quality tea in a more sustainable way, and get a better price for it. They now also sell their produce in local stores under their own brand name. Negotiations are currently ongoing for a steady contract with Unilever.
On the Indonesian island of Flores, Rikolto works with several farmer organisations and is successful in increasing coffee, cacao, and rice productivity and quality through Good Agricultural Practices and Good Processing Practices. In 2015, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the provincial bank of the island of Flores. The farmers’ organisations now have an easier access to credit for working capital. Thus the organisation ASNIKOM doubled its sale of coffee beans and also MPIG-AFB saw its sales volume increase substantially.
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.
Our impact in graphs
Every three years, Rikolto carries 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 smallholder farmers. We have made an effort to display these results transparently and comprehensibly in the form of graphs.
Background: How Rikolto measures impact
What do we mean by impact? How do we measure? What kind of data do we collect? In this article, our colleague Tom Van den Steen elaborates on these topics.
Background: Squaring the project circle and making evaluations matter
What do we learn from our own monitoring data? What does feedback from our stakeholders teach us? But especially: how and when does it feed into our strategic planning? Our colleague Tom Van den Steen explains why we have decided to embed our evaluation practice in a more meaningful project management cycle.