Africa | Smallholder farmers

Growth through access to knowledge and networks

10 June 2019 15:26

More income for smallholder farmers in developing countries. More local jobs. And less food going to waste. Those are all goals that Rabo Foundation shares with Yespers. "We buy socially responsible ingredients for products that we bring to market in the Netherlands", says Stefan Backe, owner of the social enterprise. "For example, we buy macadamia nuts from Exotic, a Kenyan SME that Rabo Foundation introduces us to."

Smallholder farmers in Kenya

Why is Exotic such a good partner to work with?

“Their business question was: ‘How can we gain access to a new sales market for our sustainable product, while increasing our revenue and offering our members a fair, better price?’ In 2018, Rabo Foundation recognized how well that question suited our needs. We want to import fair, sustainable ingredients from developing countries, in order to have a positive impact on those countries and to use the ingredients to bring more sustainable products to market in the Netherlands.”

Do all your ingredients come from Kenya?

“No, they come from a number of developing countries. For example, for our spreads we import banana puree from Ecuador, made from bananas that have been rejected for export. Our sustainable cashew nuts come from Burkina Faso. And the processing of those kinds of sustainable ingredients takes place in the countries themselves. Not, as is usually the case with nuts, in another country, or even another continent. We value local processing, just like Rabo Foundation.”

Why is local processing so important?

“Adding value to products locally creates more jobs in the processing industry, higher incomes for smallholder farmers, and economic growth in the production countries. It also makes the chain shorter and more transparent. And when producer cooperatives or small- and medium-sized enterprises do the processing, they become more independent commercially. Plus, it eliminates a lot of transport, so it reduces CO₂ emissions. Local processing therefore also reduces the negative impact on the climate.”

Are all of Yespers’ products 100-percent sustainable?

“Not yet, but we eventually want all of the ingredients in our spreads, snacks and granola to be produced, processed and transported in a responsible manner. That means with attention paid to both people and the environment – because that ‘and-and’ is what we mean with ‘sustainability’, what we strive for. We don’t try to reach that goal all at once, but rather ingredient-by-ingredient. And always with an eye to the specific challenges and opportunities around every ingredient, whether they are bananas, cashews, or macadamia nuts.”

How Rabo Foundation adds value

The Kenyan macadamia producer Exotic gained access to the Rabo Foundation network, and via it access to Yespers’ sales market. That allows the Kenyan cooperative to grow, earn more revenue, and pay smallholder farmers more. Exotic also received its first trade financing in 2018.