Two smallholder farmers in a field in Africa

Worldwide: supporting smallholder farmers make progress

Smallholder farmers in developing countries often lack the knowledge and opportunities to develop their farms further. By joining forces in cooperatives, they can help each other to make progress. Rabo Foundation supports these farmers’ cooperatives, thereby strengthening the farmers, their communities and the global food chain.

What is the problem?

There are more than 500 million smallholder farmers in the world. Every day, on their own small plot of land, they do their very best to make a good living. For their families and their communities. They don’t have the money to invest and grow because local banks often consider them too small or too risky to grant them credit. They also lack knowledge of improved farming techniques. Climate change is increasingly causing their harvests to fail. In addition, they lack access to markets where they can sell their products.

What is the solution?

Partnerships. By joining forces, these farmers can strengthen their position and open up doors that were previously closed to them. Stronger farmers’ organizations act as an important driver of economic progress. They help smallholder farmers to grow their farming businesses and produce food sustainably. They open up new markets to farmers and ensure that they receive a fair, higher price. This delivers higher incomes and better living conditions. And if the farmers succeed, then their families benefit too. In fact, the entire community thrives.

How is Rabo Foundation helping?

In order to succeed, cooperatives need access to funding, expertise and useful contacts. Since 1974, we have been working to deliver such access, in order to strengthen and professionalize farmers’ organizations all over the world. These efforts help large numbers of smallholder farmers on their way to economic self-reliance.

Funding for farmers’ organizations

We ensure that cooperatives for savings, loans and products have sufficient financial scope to provide their members with loans or buy up their products at a fair price. We also enable them to make the investments needed for growth. We deploy five different financial instruments, from loans to bank guarantees. We also develop new forms of funding, so that we can give organizations exactly what they need. Often we will be the first party to provide them with funding, acting as a driver for their success.

Building towards stronger, more professional organizations

A cooperative can maximize its social impact by assisting its members with sustainable business practices, efficient production methods and technological innovation. That’s why we share our expertise in these areas with cooperatives by providing advice and training. The knowledge we share comes from a variety of sources. From our foundation and from Rabobank, of course. But also from our partner organizations (such as Progreso) and training partners, such as the Agribusiness Development Center (ADC).

Technological innovation

In many countries there are great gains to be made in relation to agricultural technology. The right innovations can help farmers produce in greater volumes, more efficiently and more sustainably. This delivers bigger harvests and better quality. That is why we provide funding to innovative AgTech and FinTech businesses and offer cooperatives access to these new technologies.

Connecting organizations to create a sustainable value chain

As cooperatives grow and farmers become more productive, it is essential to have access to reliable markets. With Rabo Foundation as their partner, the cooperatives are part of the network of Rabobank, the world’s largest food and agri bank. In this way we match supply with demand and help to create partnerships.

Adapting to climate change

The impact of climate change is visible all over the world. It may take the form of extreme drought or excessive rainfall. Both of these extremes can cause crop failure, with disastrous consequences for farmers and their communities. So they need to adapt to the new conditions. There are lots of creative and innovative ways to do this. We are helping farmers to make these adaptations.

Measuring and managing impact

By providing impact funding, we want to help more smallholder farmers grow their businesses at an impressive pace. That’s why we are studying how to achieve the best economic, social and ecological impact in order to accelerate progress. We assess the impact on each organization and examine which methods are most effective.

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Do you strengthen the position of smallholder farmers and create opportunities for their sustainable growth? Let's see if we can do something for each other.

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