“We have what we call a banking-for-food strategy.”


Wiebe Draijer is chair of Rabobank’s managing board and one of the world’s major lenders to the global food and agriculture sector.

The bank grew out of the nineteenth-century cooperative movement of credit unions for smallholder farmers in Europe.

“We had a lot of smallholders and the only solution they had was to organize themselves into cooperatives to have joint power that allowed them to negotiate, to buy, and to sell,” Wiebe says.

Since 2013, Rabobank Foundation, an independent organization funded by Rabobank  has partnered with FAO in Zero Hunger initiatives around the world to improve farmers’ access to financial resources and organizational tools, seeds and technology. The group received the Jacques Diouf Award in 2017 from FAO for its efforts to support and economically strengthen small farming communities in developing countries.

“We in the private sector can help with our knowledge of cooperatives and finance while FAO can contribute its knowledge of agricultural sectors and its relationship to governments.”

FAO and Rabobank Foundation began with projects in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, all oriented to improving smallholder incomes, investing in improved production efficiency, and working with local microfinance lenders to help cooperatives develop jobs and new income opportunities along the production-processing-sales value chain.

The two institutions have since moved on to develop initiatives in other regions of the world, promoting rural youth employment and young farmers’ access to technologies, supporting data and information sharing through mobile technology, and encouraging local purchases from family-farmer cooperatives, especially those representing women.

“Together we aim to invest in people’s self-sufficiency. Everyone with a desire to grow should be given the opportunity to do so”

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