Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) disburses USD 2 million to promote Fairtrade quinoa. In addition, the ongoing technical assistance project is enhancing the farmers’ production and will protect them better against climate change.

You could consider quinoa as a part of the Bolivian cultural heritage. The Bolivians are relying on the grain as a food source for 7,000 years. Despite the rising popularity of the grain, quinoa farmers face challenges like low productivity and climate change.

SINDAN, a Bolivian processor and exporter of quinoa is boosting the organic and Fairtrade production and consumption of quinoa (and other crops like for example also of chia and amaranth). Not just any quinoa, but the organic royal quinoa, a unique variety found only in the Bolivian Altiplano, at altitudes above 3,600 meters. The particular environment of a dry and cold climate with soils rich in salt lead to a superior quality. No wonder, this variety is in high demand both nationally and internationally.

SINDAN buys the quinoa from certified Fairtrade associations, representing hundreds of smallholder farmers. In that way, SINDAN offers those small farmers a secure market and prices above the average of other local buyers, which gives them the opportunity to raise the standard of their living. On top of that SINDAN provides trainings on techniques to help the farmers increase their production in a sustainable way.

Low productivity and climate risks threaten the livelihood of communities that depend almost exclusively on quinoa production. That is the reason why Incofin is not only investing via a USD 2 million dollar loan disbursement, but also developed a technical assistance project to finetune the farmers’ production techniques. The objective is to boost quinoa yields using environmentally friendly practices, through an integral productivity training program. This program includes topics like the use of organic fertilizers, how to prevent erosion, seed management and disease controls. The project has shown encouraging results: almost 200 producers have been trained already and they have implemented innovative techniques to produce sustainable quinoa which is after a year and a half leading to higher yields.

The second goal is to implement a climate change adaptation action plan to reduce the impact of unpredictable weather patterns and extreme climate events.  Meteorological sensors have been installed in two communities. Through these sensors, farmers will get early alerts and meteorological reports on their phone, as well as technical advice on how to protect their crop better when necessary.

 

After a devastating earthquake at the end of the summer, Incofin helps ACME setting up a mobile agency to ensure contined operations in the affected areas. In that way the Haitian microfinance provider can serve its clients who have now the biggest needs for financial services.

The people of Haiti have not been spared, the past three years: political instability, social protests, economic crisis, natural disasters, Covid-19. On top of that, on August 14th, an earthquake of a 7.2 magnitude rocked the country in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea.

Microfinance institution ACME mainly focuses on microloans to small traders in rural areas, which is important in a country with poor infrastructure. Incofin has built a long-term relationship with ACME, being one of its shareholders since 2009 and having invested through multiple funds.

Despite all the challenges of the last three years, ACME has been able to maintain the size of the portfolio and operations have remained open with an apparent normality. And has, yet again, to show resilience after another setback.

On August 14th, Haiti was rocked by an earthquake of a magnitude 7.2. The death toll has grown to over 2,200 people. More than 50,000 houses have been destroyed, including schools, hospitals and markets, leaving people without homes and much needed supplies. The aftermath of the quake was only made worse by the tropical storm Grace that swept across southern Haiti three days later. The heavy rain caused misery for people who had been sleeping in the streets in tents or under plastic sheets, unable to return home after their homes got destroyed. Many of the shelters people had made, were torn apart by the winds.

Relief efforts had to be started up in a very unstable political landscape that turned to near anarchy after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse one month before the earthquake struck. Truck hijackings and other unchecked gang activity, crowded and damaged roads have hamstrung the flow of humanitarian aid.

In these extremely hard circumstances, ACME is doing everything to ensure the continuity of its operations. In its affected agencies, most activities are performed remotely through calls and direct visits to clients. In addition, ACME is willing to set up two mobile agencies in the departments of South and Grand’Anse. Those agencies are containers, built out of trucks, composed of several spaces, which allow ACME’s staff to welcome clients and keep the operations up and running. Technical Assistance funds coming from Incofin cvso supported ACME to acquire one truck and to purchase the necessary IT equipment.

Deputy Regional Manager Lia Gonzalez explains Incofin’s commitment: In over 10 years we have been working with ACME, there hasn’t been a challenge nor crisis that this institution has not successfully overcome. The courage and resilience of the managers, collaborators and partners is worth all of our admiration and respect. Despite the circumstances, ACME’s commitment to keep supporting its clientele remains unharmed. We worked together to develop mobile agencies supported by the Technical Assistance Facility of Incofin cvso to make sure ACME could ensure its continued operation and closeness to micro-entrepreneurs when they need it the most.”

Today is the day humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. More sustainable agriculture can be a powerful lever to push the date of Earth Overshoot Day.

Agriculture takes a big bite out of earth’s natural resources.  It is the leading source of pollution in several countries, with pesticides and fertilizers that are released into water and soil. Agriculture also accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. 17% through direct agricultural activities and an additional 7-14% through land use changes. Finally, it consumes about 70% of the planet’s fresh water and approximately 80% of all threatened terrestiral bird and mammal species are imperiled by agriculturally driven habitat loss.[1]

However, sustainable agricultural practices can contribute to a more efficient use of resources and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities on the planet, while increasing productivity to meet an increasing food demand of humanity.

At Incofin, we partner with producer organisations and small and medium agricultural enterprises that implement social and environmental good practices to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries. We aim to contribute to the development of a fair and sustainable agricultural sector, but also to address the financial needs of smallholder farmers by providing better access to capital and to sustainable markets, while providing a fair return to investors.

In addition to our investments, Incofin also develops and manages, in partnership with the client, projects to strengthen sustainability practices. These technical assistance (TA) projects enable to explore innovative agricultural practices, to expand organic production and to develop circular economy models within organisations to make a more efficient use of resources when producing food.

Cooperativa Cafetalera ”Capucas” Limitada (COCAFCAL), Honduras

Coffee production

907 smallholder producers

Period TA-project: 2016-2018

Removing the coffee bean from the cherry through the process of wet milling generates a significant amount of wastewater and coffee pulp. Typically, these byproducts go unused. Under the worst circumstances, wastewater is discharged into nearby rivers and coffee pulp is left in fields to rot. Incofin’s TA helped Capucas design a system whereby 100% of the water and pulp generated by the wet mill is used to create organic fertilizers for members, creating a closed-loop production system that reduces impact on the local environment.

Impact achieved:

  • 22,000 liters of water reused in 2018
  • 200,000 kilos of coffee pulp reused
  • 5,300 smallholder farmers using organic fertilizers.

 

COOPFAM, Brazil

Organic coffee production

TA-project: ongoing since 2019

To improve the performance of organic plantations and maintain the minimum quality required by the buyers, it is key to ensure the good quality of seedlings. The production of healthy and well-developed seedlings is an extremely important factor for any crop and especially for those of perennial character, such as coffee. COOPFAM members used to buy seedlings from external suppliers which was costly and not entirely suitable for organic agriculture since the trees were mixed with conventional types. Through a TA project, COOPFAM has been establishing nurseries where the farmers produce seedlings and which, through economies of scale, will generate the best socio-economic benefits for them and for the cooperative.  

Impact achieved so far:

  • Increase of certified organic members from 120 to 167 in 2020
  • 7 technical facilitators trained to provide high quality advice on the cultivation of organic coffee trees, incl. production of organic compost
  • 176 producers trained in the production of organic coffee seedlings
  • 23 nurseries for organic seedlings established with more than 150.000 organic seedlings produced and planted in the farmers’ plots 

 

[1] https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c49f1a94-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/c49f1a94-en

 

A Fairtrade certification brings many advantages: it ensures consumers that they are buying a good quality product in accordance with social, environmental and economic standards. Smallholder farmers benefit from a Fairtrade premium and receive a minimum price which protects them in case market prices drop. That is why Incofin assists their Congolese partner organization to acquire the Fairtrade certificate.

Incofin IM recently launched a technical assistance project with the Congolese (DRC) coffee cooperative SOPROCOPIV, an investee of Incofin since February 2020, via Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF). The Technical Assistance project is co-financed by the Technical Assistance facility of the FAF (TAF) funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The cooperative, who already has the UTZ, Organic and Fair for Life certifications, expressed its strong willingness to become Fairtrade certified by the end of 2021.

The Fairtrade audit cannot be conducted on site for security and infrastructure reasons, SOPROCOPIV is part of the pilot program for “certification in special conditions“. The process will be conducted online and before performing the audit, the cooperative needs to comply with it. Incofin supports SOPROCOPIV in acquiring the Fairtrade certification by training its agronomists on the certification standards and helping the cooperative in the required documentation of processes before the audit. As a result of this project, SOPROCOPIV expects to have no less than 5,036 farmers Fairtrade certified by 2022.

Fairtrade certified coffee farmers benefit from Fairtrade premiums and receive as well the minimum price which provides a vital safety net in case the market prices drop. The cooperative will also attract more buyers and sell more quality products.

The cooperative has shown great enthusiasm and motivation since the start of the project. As of today, 3,350 farmers have been trained on the Fairtrade standards already.

”We sincerely thank the Fairtrade Access Fund through its Technical Assistance department for agreeing to accompany SOPROCOPIV in the process of Fairtrade certification. This assistance plays a great role in this process because it allows the cooperative to have an expert consultant in certification who is now supervising and training us on the different Fairtrade standards. This assistance has a positive impact because it responds to a real need that SOPROCOPIV has to certify its members in order to promote a fair trade along the whole value chain and to benefit from these advantages aiming at improving the lives of the farmers.”Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

Covid-19 crisis relief

SOPROCOPIV will be the first investee of the Fairtrade Access Fund that will be supported by the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. Faitrade International launched the funds, co-financed by TAF, last year to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while also establishing a foundation for longer-term economic recovery efforts.

Incofin’s grant will support SOPROCOPIV’s campaign to raise awareness among its members and their families on how to contain the spread of the virus. The cooperative has distributed information leaflets, washable masks and soap to its members and has sensitized them on the importance of adhering to the essential health measures. In addition, it will install water tanks in two villages that have no water access.

“The approval and execution of this project was a salvation and allowed all the members of our cooperative to benefit from some necessary kits for the prevention of this pandemic such as soaps, nose covers, water tanks in gathering places like washing stations and factories for the regular washing of hands. The project has enabled the cooperative to strengthen the capacities of its members by sensitizing them on the protection and the fight against the coronavirus. We thank the FAF TAF for this support and encourage it to support other initiatives to improve the welfare of rural farmers.” – Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV

 

About SOPROCOPIV 

SOPROCOPIV is a Congolese coffee cooperative located in the Butembo region of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Established in 2008 by a group of smallholder farmers, the cooperative has been growing from year to year to go from 1,408 members at its creation to 7,636 in April 2021. SOPROCOPIV is recognized as the biggest sustainably certified cooperative in the Butembo region. Its mission is to bring Congolese coffee production to a competitive level throughout the world in order to valorize the efforts of farmers by offering them the best prices and premiums for excellence through the quality certificates obtained.

www.soprocopiv.com

 

About the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF)

Read more about FAF in the Annual Report 2020.

www.incofinfaf.com

 

Switzerland and Luxembourg are mobilizing an overall budget of EUR 55 million to support smallholder farmers. The new ten years program, called SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Program) draws on the knowledge and expertise of the technical assistance facilities of leading impact investment managers like Incofin IM.

The vast majority of low-income populations live in rural areas and essentially consist of vulnerable smallholder households who practice subsistence farming. In order to improve practices and bolster the agricultural markets in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, the Luxembourgish and Swiss development organizations chose for a close cooperation with partners like Incofin Investment Management. Incofin is considered a reference in the field of financial inclusion and the agri-food value chain and has successfully set up several technical assistance facilities. Through this partnership, the public and private sector will co-fund technical assistance projects for the agricultural value chain.

SSNUP will be coordinated by ADA, the Luxembourgish NGO specialized in inclusive finance. It is a ten-year project of which the first phase (2020-2023) has now been officially launched. The global goal of this phase is to strengthen sustainably the safety nets of around three million smallholder households, contributing to several SDGs like for example “No Hunger” and “Gender Equality”. It starts with an estimated budget of EUR 18 million, EUR 12 million of which will be co-funded by Switzerland and Luxembourg. The remaining EUR 6 million will be pooled from the private sector and other donors.

Impact investor Incofin IM, through the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund, grants EUR 200,000 to the Fairtrade International funds that were created to meet both the immediate and the medium to long term needs of farming communities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This donation will support Fairtrade certified producers in Africa and Latin America and facilitate investments in sustainable agriculture.

COVID-19 is heavily impacting the lives of smallholder farmers and farm workers, who are at high risk of illness, loss of employment and income due to the crisis. Supporting the producers affected by this emergency is key to protecting their safety, livelihoods and global food security. Investing in long-term solutions that will strengthen the resilience of farming communities, while also protecting the environment is the forward-looking way to lasting impact.

Realizing this vision requires strong partnerships. Incofin is joining forces with Fairtrade International, which launched the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund and the Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Relief Fund intends to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while the Resilience Fund aims to support economic recovery by addressing the medium to long term needs of Fairtrade certified producers as they look at business continuity in a COVID-19 world. The initial investment of EUR 3.6 million between the two funds, contributed by Fairtrade International and its member organizations, is expected to mobilize additional pledges from other donors.

COVID-19 safety protocols at the collection center of the Peruvian cocoa cooperative ACOPAGRO

Fairtrade International is a founding sponsor and shareholder of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“FAF”), an impact fund advised by Incofin, which invests in Fairtrade and sustainably certified organizations (producer organizations, agricultural value chain SMEs and MFIs). FAF aims to address the financing and technical assistance needs of smallholder farmers, thus contributing to the improvement of their wellbeing and communities while promoting a sustainable food system for the world. FAF partners with around 30 Fairtrade certified producer organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The majority of these organizations are active in the coffee and cocoa values chains, which are among the top Fairtrade commodities.

In order to scale the provision of relief and economic recovery support to a larger number of institutions within the Fairtrade network, Incofin is providing EUR 200,000 to the aforementioned Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. This donation comes from the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”), which is funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The contribution will enable the provision of grants to the Fairtrade certified producer organisations, which are FAF clients in Africa and Latin America to support their producers. Part of this support will target longer-term interventions, such as business restoration and diversification, transitioning to organic production practices and climate change resilience, establishing food security and supporting other activities that will generate added value for the farmers. The donation will be managed by the Fairtrade Producer Networks – CLAC (La Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Pequeños Productores y Trabajadores de Comercio Justo) in Latin America and Fairtrade Africa.

The Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds present a unique opportunity to efficiently address the challenges brought about by the global pandemic. This partnership is also a reflection of the strong commitments from Fairtrade International and Incofin to maximize impact within the farming communities and to facilitate investments in sustainable agriculture.

Darío Soto Abril, CEO of Fairtrade International says, “Fairtrade farmers and agricultural workers have been pillars in their communities, using their own funds to support health efforts and to provide food to those in need. These producers are creative and resilient, and Incofin’s commitment to the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds will enable them to take bold steps to meet the challenges of this time, and evolve toward more sustainable livelihoods.”

Viktoria Popova, Incofin’s Technical Assistance Manager shares, “At Incofin, we continuously explore possibilities of providing relevant support to our clients. Technical Assistance is an important instrument of addressing the challenges our portfolio companies face. COVID-19 has a tremendous impact on businesses and communities we work with. Partnering with Fairtrade International is very important as we aim to create lasting change among the farming communities and transform the global food system. I am extremely thankful to our donors for their support of this forward-looking initiative.”

– Viktoria Popova, TA Manager at Incofin


About the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”)

The Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”) is established to support the FAF Fund in achieving its objectives through the provision of technical assistance services to FAF investees aimed to develop their capacities in addressing the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. With USD 3.9 million of committed donor funding, including the contributions from KFW, FMO and BIO, the TAF has supported 22 projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

About Fairtrade International

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade International is an independent non-profit organization representing 1.7 million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide. It owns the FAIRTRADE Mark, a registered trademark of Fairtrade that appears on more than 30,000 products. Beyond certification, Fairtrade International and its member organizations empower producers, partner with businesses, engage consumers and advocate for a fair and sustainable future. Find out more at www.fairtrade.net.