The fresh & ingredients program leads to social and environmental change in the following commodities: fruit and vegetables, juice, nuts, vanilla, spices, and flowers. IDH developed covenants for each sector and, through these, works with over 140 companies, some of which are the largest global players in their market. An important trend is the presence of a growing middle class in Africa and India, which increasingly demands intra-African and Indian trade of high-quality, safe, and sustainably produced fresh produce. The companies that we work with recognize this and are increasingly interested in supplying these local and regional markets in addition to export. In 2017, IDH supported 45 projects in Central America; West, Central and East Africa; Vietnam; and India. Among the issues that we address are poverty, inequality, economic growth, agrochemical use and smallholder inclusion.

Impact Focus

  • Smallholder Livelihoods
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  • Responsible Agrochemical Management
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  • Gender Equality and Empowerment
  • Living Wage and Improved Working Conditions
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Market transformation

In the fresh & ingredients (F&I) sector IDH is convening frontrunners under sector initiatives. Participants commit through covenants to targeted percentages of sustainably sourced produce within a predefined period. Involving influential sector players contributes to increasing interest among the rest of the private partners (often their suppliers). Through these covenants, IDH drives the increase in volumes of sustainably sourced produce by member companies. Members can apply for project co-funding to pilot solutions for supply chain challenges, and learnings from these projects are shared with member companies of the initiatives. F&I works in many different sectoral supply chains and we see that the company members are all moving in the same direction. Sustainability is embedded in their business practices, and now they are trying to improve and innovate even further. In all sector initiatives, IDH started conversations about a vision beyond co-funding with topics such as gender and (living) wage implementation; there is a continuous development of verification; and we’re working on combining approaches with multiple stakeholders.

By providing accurate figures on the cost of living, companies can build a clearer picture and test new approaches to paying a living wage. To distill the business case and best practices in working with smallholders, all smallholder inclusion projects in F&I are now analyzed using our service delivery model analysis methodology. In 2017, this analysis has created more insights into the investments made by member companies, and this helps these companies to design interventions that are profitable. The lessons learned are used to improve the design of projects and to build knowledge across the F&I sector initiatives.

KPI Progress 2017

  • Change in Business Practice - Private Sector Investment Ratio

    Target 2020 1
    Target 2016 1
    Results 2016 1
    In 2017, IDH drove the development of multiple covenants in the F&I program. Throught these covenants, companies can focus on reaching the committed targets, and drive internal management change. In 2017, IDH set up the Sustainable Juice Covenant. Member companies have committed to 100% sustainable production and trade by 2030. Already in its first year, this Covenant succeeded in building a critical mass by attracting the (8) world’s largest juice companies. Under SIFAV, a milestone of 70% sustainably sourced produce was reached. 2017 was also the first reporting year for the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) member organizations: 41% was sustainably sourced, a promising step towards the goal of 90% by 2020. New companies need to map their supply chains and monitoring needs to be conducted through the agreed measurement methodologies. To reach the targets, the companies must establish specific internal policies and dedicate resources for monitoring, and supporting their suppliers with auditing and certification. In each initiative, monitoring protocols have been developed, an We create business cases to show the potential of sustainable practices. Last year, we developed two service delivery model (SDM) analyses of a cashew processor in Burkina Faso, and another in Côte d’Ivoire. We supported both companies in setting up the SDMs, resulting in improvements in sourcing efficiencies by up to 25%. In Madagascar, we supported Prova and Barry Callebaut in improving the farming system of vanilla farmers and adding cocoa as a second source of income in the off-season.
  • Change in Sector Governance - Satisfaction about the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder processes

    Results 2016 9
    Outreach of the F&I initiatives resulted in 18 new companies committing to the sourcing targets. In 2017, our retail partners identified IDH as a potential partner with which to initiate cross-sectoral approaches to living wage. Together with the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC) we will engage with a broader group of industry standards, retail and trade, to support and promote the payment of living wages. In India, we registered the Sustainable Spices Initiative India (SSI-I) as a legal entity that convenes key national and international spice companies in India. In the vanilla sector in Madagascar, the surging local market prices for vanilla combined with poor sector governance is problematic. In Uganda we have supported the initiation of a traceability system for conventional vanilla, and the development of better regulations for the production, curing and trading of vanilla. Production in Uganda will hopefully help to stabilize global vanilla prices. Under FSI, SIFAV, Juice and SSI, IDH continued to align and benchmark standards to reduce audit duplication, and audit costs for producers and farmers, as well as to align existing in social and environmental auditing, and provide support for international reference for best practices. 83 private companies agree with the “basket of standards”. Both FSI and SIFAV have documented their approaches, and members can use this material when discussing sustainability with their clients and buyers. The FSI basket of standards also gained considerable visibility in 2017 thanks to a manifesto signed by a group of Dutch flower trader members of FSI. Additionally IDH pushed for and supported the reform of the Global Social Compliance Program (under the Consumer Goods Forum) benchmarking facility, towards a simpler and more transparent process. In 2017, the Vietnam Pepper Taskforce was initiated by IDH, and a national action plan to reduce the use of agrochemicals was launched. The action plan includes the development of a national curriculum of GAP for the national extension service to reduce the use of agrochemicals, and developing and implementing field-level projects. Some key national and international companies have committed resources to ensuring that these activities are effectively implemented.
  • Field Level Sustainability - Number of producers/workers/ community members trained

    Target 2020 100
    Target 2017 35
    Results 2017 65
    The F&I program brings together over 100 suppliers, and is reaching more and more farmers and workers. Partner companies benefit from synergies in sustainability strategies, investments, and learning from the different categories. The area where sustainable practices were applied in 2017 surpassed expectations by covering 66,452 hectares. Together with the F&I member companies, we initiate field-level projects to test and prove interventions and approaches that address supply chain challenges. Under SIFAV, IDH supports the Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI), in partnership with Solidaridad, the World Banana Forum and Banana Link. BOHESI seeks to convene the global banana sector around more socially responsible banana production, and improve the standards of living for workers, farmers and surrounding communities. In 2017, the BOHESI training manual was developed, and strong support was garnered from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture, CSOs, and big producers. The design of an SDM in macadamias in Kenya by Intersnack was informed by the lessons drawn from a cashew SDM analysis in Burkina Faso with Anatrans. In the flower sector, IDH has supported integrated pest management pilot projects in Ethiopia. Through the Working Group on Agrochemicals, FSI is convening influential players to drive transparency through mainstreaming agrochemical record keeping, and the development of an environmental impact indicator. The goal is to reduce the holistic environmental impact of agrochemical use. As part of F&I projects, some 41,447 farmers and 19,548 workers received training in good agricultural practices, GLOBALG.A.P. Certification, farm management systems (budgeting, accounting, recording of production costs), capacity building, quality management systems, leadership training, maintenance of farm infrastructure, irrigation, and agrochemical management. Workers also received training on gender-sensitive management and workers’ rights; personal, food and water hygiene; and family planning.


In the PPI Pepper Task Force IDH brought in the knowledge of pepper producers and of other crops. From both Vietnam and other countries. It created insights in how to formulate and implement the curriculum

Dr Duong, Vice President of the Vietnam Plant Protection Department

Relevant SDGs

  • 1 No Poverty
  • 8 Decent Work & Economic Growth
  • 12 Responsible Consumption
  • 15 Life on Land

Gender focus

Moving from a women committee to a gender committee with recognition from the company has had a tremendously positive effect. In the flower sector in Ethiopia, IDH’s gender projects with EHPEA and BSR gender Committees have been established, and 11,783 women and 2,327 men have received gender-based training through an outreach peer-to-peer education program.

IDH will communicate this business case for implementing gender-sensitive policies and programs broadly. The FSI Working Group on Gender (WGG), comprising BSR HER project, HIVOS and Partner Africa, is encouraging and supporting FSI members to include gender-equality policies in their business strategies, and is formulating a gender-sensitive improvement proposal to review the gender criteria currently adopted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) Standards Map.

The next step will be the development of a filter on the FSI page of the ITC website for users to scan and analyze standards that relate specifically to gender, driving the adoption of gender-sensitive criteria by sustainability compliance standards. An infographic on the benefits of workplace gender equality was developed in cooperation with ICCO and Fair and Sustainable.

Lessons Learned

Local demand
Local and regional demand for high-quality produce allows local markets to grow, both in the field of service provision to smallholders, and in setting up supply chains for local processing and retailing.

Private-sector initiatives
From a self-sufficiency perspective, it is beneficial that sustainability initiatives are driven and managed by the private sector. However, we have seen that platforms without a dedicated, experienced convener and change agent are more likely to lose momentum and depth.

Local versus export market requirements
In India, the difference between the local and export market requirements (for example, relating to maximum residue levels) is too large, making it difficult to coordinate sustainability programs across producers that supply both the local and export markets. IDH has not been able to prove that the scaling model applied by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) can also be applied in the Indian spices sector, while delivering against export market requirements

Focus countries

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South Africa
Côte d’Ivoire
Burkina Faso
Costa Rica

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