Annual report 2022: Welcome

Guiding the agri-food sector in a world hungry for change

Annual report 2022



Last year kept us on the edge of our seats. Both The Hague and Brussels were buzzing with those same words: mandatory due diligence. In other words: legislation to shape a future of food in which corporates take accountability for any negative impact they have on people and planet. The year was closed with a lot of unfinished business, but we are left feeling mostly optimistic, and continue to advocate for hard agreements that will hopefully see the day of light in 2023.*

Much needed, since 2022 was also a year in which smallholder farmers were faced with the consequences of an unfair distribution of value. Political unrest, rising injustice, and attacks on democracy and human rights all took their toll on farming communities across the globe. We witnessed how a few (food) giants made huge profits from soaring commodity prices and inflation, triggered by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Moreover, we saw that the future is now; the effects of climate change are already being felt. Unjustly so, mostly by the poorest among us.

Here’s a statistic that makes it crystal clear that the agri-food sector plays a pivotal role in building a sustainable economy and society: globally, agriculture is the main activity for 76 percent of the rural extreme poor. Poverty is an important driver behind many of the issues in food supply chains – forced and child labour, depletion of natural resources and vulnerability during crises.

Money talks, and thus we continuously strive for living wages and incomes for the people at the start of the value chain. Our vision is a transparent food system, with traceability and connectivity as the two main pillars. For that, we will rely heavily on big data. And because a lot can go wrong in the data arena – think in terms of privacy and digital exclusion – we recently published our very own Data Principles that our work abides by.

There’s only one answer to the question ‘who owns farmer data’: The Farmer. 

We are proud to say that, first and foremost, this annual report is a celebration of the enormous strides ahead towards this goal. We are successfully working with incredible partners – farmer organisations, civil society organisations, local partners, traders and brands – in countries such as South Africa, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Uganda and Honduras. Furthermore, we see the positive effects of digital inclusion and better informed farmers, and are able to prove higher incomes for farmers, and make their voices heard. We aim to share with you our own sense of how we are succeeding in each of our programmes and projects – and what we are learning from our mistakes.

How does advocating for stricter legislation on corporate responsibility tie into working in close collaboration with those very corporates, one might ask. The answer is aimed at the companies lagging behind. As we are steadily making progress with the most willing of corporates, we are also noticing difficulties when it comes to competition. In a capitalistic society, being unsustainable is cheaper than taking care of the world. Not taking accountability pays. Time is up, and we need to force the companies slacking to follow suit. It is about creating a level playing field, in which unsustainable business practices are no longer a competitive advantage.

As we close off one year’s work and launch the next, I take heart in reflecting on who is with us in the fight for equality and the future of the planet. There are our colleagues and the partners we work with, whose commitment is profound. You, our supporters, are walking with us on this journey. We are so glad to have you by our side.

Sander de Jong, managing director

*At the time of writing (February 2023), the progress around both the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) and the Dutch concept law for mandatory due diligence is especially dynamic, and almost every day brings about a new reality. Despite setbacks such as Dutch leading governmental parties speaking out against the concept law, we remain optimistic, and will continue to push for EU and Dutch laws that honour the people behind our food.

It seems you also care about the people behind our food.

Stay up-to-date on socio-economic progress in our food system with Fairfood's bi-monthly newsletter!

Stay up-to-date on socio-economic progress in the global food system through our bi-monthly newsletter.