What will we eat tomorrow?

The incredible variety of food on our plates is not to be taken for granted. To keep up with the ever-growing world population in a changing climate, the food sector needs more stable supply chains to provide affordable food for all, today and tomorrow.
This challenge is critical:

  • By 2050, the global population is projected to exceed 9.6 billion. Global food production will need to increase by 50 percent to meet this challenge, which will be particularly acute in rapidly expanding urban areas.
  • Soil quality and water resources are already depleting and the impact of climate change is further aggravating this development.
  • Low prices and poverty are forcing farmers from the land and young people are turning their backs on a future in agriculture.

Rikolto (formerly VECO) believes family farms are a big part of the solution. Together they produce 70% of our food worldwide, but individually they're often cut out of the trade, ending up in poverty and leaving their huge potential untapped. Change on a global scale demands that food markets become more inclusive and offer value to all actors in the food chain. Smallholder farmers must be offered a fair deal.

Rikolto is ready to meet this challenge…

We empower farmer groups to become solid business partners and implement future-proof, sustainable practices. We support them so that their products meet quality standards. We connect them with innovators in the food industry to explore new ways of doing business.

... to change the recipe of our food system forever

Rikolto builds bridges of trust and trade, between the food industry, governments, research institutions, banks and farmer organisations around this one central question: ‘What will we eat tomorrow?’. We plant and harvest new solutions, making the food system more transparent, so consumers are able to make a sustainable choice.

Rikolto: a nimble network organisation

Rikolto (formerly VECO/Vredeseilanden) is an international NGO with more than 40 years’ experience in partnering with farmer organisations and food chain stakeholders across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Rikolto runs programmes in 15 countries worldwide through eight regional offices. We’re a close-knit network of accessible and knowledgeable colleagues, willing to share experience and eager to inspire others.

What does this mean in practice?

Browse through our different projects worldwide...

Who are the farmers we work with?

Rikolto works with smallholder farmers that can build a living from farming in the long run. These are often not the most vulnerable poor farmers or landless farm labourers. This group has other needs: a proper social security system and access to decent labour. The expertise of Rikolto relies on bringing farmers, through their organisations, towards a higher level of professionalism in order to build sustainable livelihoods based on farming activities.

What commodities do we focus on?

Rikolto decided to concentrate on only a few commodities: coffee, cocoa, rice and fresh fruit & vegetables. Our main area of expertise lies in methodologies and approaches to strengthen farmers’ organisations as businesses and support them in building long-term relationships with other stakeholders inside and outside value chains. Yet these methodologies and approaches often have specific and different characteristics for each commodity, depending on the specifics of the market systems (stock markets, market players, etc.), production systems and policy environments for these commodities. If we want to remain relevant for farmer’s organisations and private actors, we need to develop our expertise in the specific context of the commodities to enhance learning between regions so as to have impact at local and international level.

In some cases, we still work with specific commodities other than those that we focus on (cinnamon in Indonesia, sesame in Senegal) for historical reasons or because of very specific opportunities.

Coffee and cocoa are two commodities that in large parts of the world are still smallholder crops offering good opportunities for farmers’ livelihoods. Although these traditional export crops have had a lot of attention in the past (as forerunners of the Fairtrade movement), there are still huge challenges in terms of sustainability (uncertainty of stock markets, which makes it difficult for smallholders to invest) and even survival of crops in times of climate change.

Rice is one of the biggest food commodities globally and, although it has low margins for smallholders, it is governed by numerous laws and regulations imposed by local to international governments/bodies because of its strategic importance in feeding a growing and increasingly urban world. For smallholder farmers, it is the basis for food and income in major parts of the world, mainly Africa and Asia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables as a group of products have become a major source of income for a significant number of smallholders. Because of their characteristics (fresh and perishable), in many cases they need to be produced close to the markets and sometimes offer opportunities as export crops. They generally also offer high margins for smallholders, but on the downside they present huge challenges: high risks (perishable) and high investments.