VECO East Africa is now Rikolto !

VECO East Africa is now Rikolto !

in News
Mark Blackett
Mark Blackett
Regional Director Rikolto in East Africa

Transforming food systems was the key theme at Mount Meru Hotel, Arusha, on 7 December 2017, where the new Rikolto brand was launched.

Rikolto is the Esperanto word for ‘harvest’ and the Rikolto team committed to enable farmers to experience good harvests and to ensure great new ideas and solutions are harvested in order to improve food systems.

Business as usual will not transform food systems in East Africa

Mark Blackett Regional Director of Rikolto in East Africa

By 2050 the global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion. Global food production will need to increase by 50 percent to meet the challenge, which will be acute in the rapidly expanding urban areas knowing that around 70 percent of the population will live in cities.

Two Farmer Organisations also contributed to the event by explaining how they were supporting their members to transform their lives.

Humphery Msuya from UWAMALE farmers group said that Rikolto is supporting them to build a business around a $1,000,000 investment by the Tanzanian Government. This includes the development of a Business Plan and a Quality Management System. Rikolto has enabled them to work with the best rice research institution in the Region and they expect to deliver significant results in 2018.

Improving our food systems calls for innovation to ensure that farmers can not only produce more but also produce safer and healthier food to feed a growing population

Mark Blackett Regional Director of Rikolto in East Africa

Peter Chuwa, a representative from MUVIKIHO farmers group, then took to the stage to explain how the MUVIKIHO farmers group has grown from almost nothing 5 years ago to support 16 profitable horticulture groups who now earn over $300,000 in income every year. They also feel they have much more power in the market as they now have their own Global GAP certificate which allows them to negotiate and choose who to sell to.

Greyson Ricardo, the representative for the Arusha City Director, completed the event by congratulating VECO for its outstanding work in supporting farmers groups in the region.

He noted that farmers have been strengthened and provided with greater opportunities to exercise collective power in trading and to address common challenges in food production, such as pest and water management. Services to farmers are now demand driven and Rikolto, with their expertise, are supporting the development of inclusive business models and initiatives for collective action.

He recognized the result has been that farmers have recorded a good harvest from their small farmlands and farming has become an attractive business among the youth and old. Farmers are now able to invest in their families in order to provide their children greater opportunities for the future.

He urged Rikolto to strengthen the legacy from VECO as farmers have the skills and incentives to produce safe and healthy food. He recognized that to address future challenges collective efforts will be needed from all stakeholders and invited Rikolto to the Arusha City Director’s office to discuss the global Food Smart Initiative which Arusha City has joined.

He ended his speech by engaging everyone to shout Rikolto!, Rikolto!, Rikolto! and officially launched the new brand.

What will we eat tomorrow?

This is a crucial question for consumers, farmers, agri-food companies and policy makers alike. For some, it is about the choices they make to improve our food system. For others, facing food shortages, it is a ‘literal’ question they struggle with every day. And for Rikolto, it is a means to invite everybody to join in a conversation, about finding solutions for the world’s food systems, and ensuring they are sustainable. To change the recipe of our food system, together.

This new name also signals our transition to an international network organisation that build regional and global bridges between different stakeholders to ensure that the world’s food systems are sustainable.

In the future

We are very excited about our new name, but we understand that you might need some time to get used to us being Rikolto. For this reason, we will still mention VECO below Rikolto for a little while. Also, our logo comes back in the design of our new name, so we hope this will make it easy for you to recognise us. Nevertheless, if you have any questions about our new name, do not hesitate to get in touch!

We cannot do it alone. Agriculture and food are complex – it touches upon issues related to poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, sustainability, environment. Solving complex problems requires collective action

Mark Blackett Regional Director of Rikolto in East Africa

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.

In Arusha Region, for example, we need to ensure that land is managed well and soil erosion is reduced; we need to ensure water is managed well as the Pangani River Basin is one of the most water stressed parts of Tanzania; we need to ensure that farmers have the skills and incentives to produce safe and healthy food; we need to ensure that services to farmers and traders are driven by demand and not just by charitable donations.

Rikolto has its expertise in supporting the development of inclusive business models and supporting collective action but to address these challenges will require a collaborative effort from all of us.