About us

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.

In East Africa more specifically, by 2050, it is estimated the population will have doubled and almost half of the population will become urban residents. As a result farmers will be delivering to rapidly growing local and regional markets. Rikolto 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, ignored or even sanctioned by governments, 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.

In 2017, Rikolto in East Africa started a 5-year DGD-funded programme (Belgian government), entitled Creating shared value for all actors in grain and horticulture value chains in Tanzania and Uganda by ensuring that horticultural and grains food chains in regions of Tanzania and Uganda are sustainable and inclusive for smallholder farmers.

Rikolto in East Africa is also a partner in the Farm Africa led consortium, alongside RUDI and Wellspring, running the DFID funded Food Trade project, which aims at linking smallholder staple food surpluses to regional markets. We are currently piloting the extension phase based on the successes of the first phase running from 2016 to early 2018, with a focus on creating incentives for inclusive business between large traders and smallholder farmer groups.

Since more than 30 years, Rikolto in East Africa (formerly known as VECO East Africa) has worked continuously to achieve one goal: a better deal for farmers. Rikolto envisions a world with production and consumption systems that allow poverty and hunger to be eradicated and that do not burden our planet more than it can bear. Therefore, Rikolto enables and supports smallholder farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and to contribute to feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way.

Rikolto: a nimble network organisation

Rikolto (formerly known as Vredeseilanden/VECO) is an international NGO with more than 40 years’ experience in partnering farmer organisations and food chain stakeholders across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Rikolto runs programmes in 14 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.

Our Approach

Rikolto is clearly ambitious in tackling one of the greatest challenges we face – ensuring that we have food systems that deliver for all of us in the future and that do not burden our planet more than it can bear. Farmers experience the same challenges all over the world in their productivity but most importantly in their everyday lives due to very low returns and incomes, impacting the livelihoods of entire families. Not only do African farmers face threats from worsening weather conditions, pests and diseases, they also struggle in accessing quality inputs for delivering high-yield harvests. If those inputs are sometimes available on local markets, they come at high prices, often prohibitive for smallholder farmers.

“ Rikolto’s interventions in East-Africa have the ambition to contribute to systemic change in food systems”

David Leyssens Regional Director of Rikolto in East Africa

How do we tackle these challenges?

  • 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.

  • We upscale successful pilots, practices and policies

  • We inspire sector wide change

  • We connect farmers with innovators in the food industry and exploring new ways of doing business

  • We develop mechanisms of trust and transparency throughout the value chain

  • We enable consumers to make an informed sustainable choice

“ Challenges in food sector are complex as they link with many different sustainability challenges. New and innovative partnerships between “unusual suspects” are therefore needed to tackle them. Rikolto East-Africa wants to be a matchmaker of partnerships and market facilitator for change.”

David Leyssens Regional Director Rikolto in East Africa