New platform to link Latin American smallholders with global supply chains

August 25, 2015

Under the name SAFE (‘Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment’), a new platform for Latin America and the Caribbean will enable 150,000 regional smallholder farmers to benefit more from their participation in national and global supply chains and develop their resilience to climate change and other external threats.

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, recently approved initial funding of US $2.6 million to create the platform. Hivos will be the implementing partner of SAFE and will also contribute counterpart funds for developing operations.

“Small holders in Latin America remain unlinked to global markets, and nowadays they are also facing the challenges of climate change. Therefore, SAFE strategy is based on collective efforts: companies and smallholder farmers work together to increase their impact,” said Juan Pablo Solís, Hivos Programme Development Manager for Green Society.

More than half of the food produced in Latin American and the Caribbean comes from 14 million smallholder producers, 35% of whom rely solely on agricultural activities for their livelihood, and many of whom live in high-poverty rural areas. Despite the key role small producers play in the global food value chain, many obstacles keep them from deriving greater value from supply chains. These include low productivity, lack of access to key market information, weak links to local, regional, and global markets, insufficient business and financial management skills and lack of access to long-term finance.

The SAFE platform is a multi-stakeholder alliance co-founded by private sector participants from the food and agricultural sector, and by donors and non-governmental organizations. They all share a common vision on how to foster sustainable agriculture and include smallholder farmers in global value chains.The platform will leverage existing knowledge, expertise, and resources from all its members* in order to implement a series of projects that will seek to pilot or scale up innovative value chain approaches. It will initially work with coffee and cocoa producers, and later include other crops with replication potential. The project will initially focus on Central America and the Andean region, where the founding members and the MIF believe interventions can achieve greater impact.

To guarantee SAFE’s success, key projects have been pre-identified in these areas: 

  • Value chain development: providing farmers greater access to market information, specifically as it relates to achieving standards, complying with quality controls for markets, diversification techniques, programs for renovation or replantation, traceability techniques, and new crop development.
  • Financial access and literacy: building producers’ financial management capacity and facilitating access to financial products and services that respond to their needs. 
  • Climate-smart agriculture: developing innovative tools to adapt to and mitigate the effect of climate change.

SAFE is expected to run over 5 years with a total of US $37 million. The MIF’s total financing of US $10.6 million will support raising counterpart funds to the amount of US$27.2 million. This initiative is part of Hivos’ Green Society program. Hivos works throughout the world with ambitious projects that allow small partners to gain access to large markets.

* SAFE’s founding members are: Keurig Green Mountain Inc., ECOM Trading, Starbucks Coffee Company, Hans R. Neumann Foundation (part of the Neumann Kaffe Gruppe), Root Capital, Catholic Relief Services, Solidaridad Network, Rainforest Alliance, S&D Coffee & Tea, Farmers Brothers Co., Hivos, the Grameen Foundation, the Coalition for Coffee Communities (CCC), the Sustainable Commodity Assistance Network (SCAN), and the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA).