Subcontractor to Partner 5


Partner programme Flanders

Blijde Inkomststraat 50
B-3000  Leuven

Tel: ** 32 16 316580
Fax: ** 32 16 316581

Web site:

About Vredeseilanden

Vredeseilanden is a Belgian NGO (non-governmental organisation) specialised in sustainable agriculture, food security and access to markets and working in 14 countries within the continents Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Since about ten years, Vredeseilanden changed its strategies from direct intervention projects towards co-operation with local and regional institutions. Its specialisation has evolved from technical intervention towards methodological support and monitoring. The programme in Belgium on Sustainable Agriculture started eight years ago. Three main domains of activities can be distinguished:
1. Initiating and monitoring of new or existing initiatives on direct selling of farm products to individual consumers or consumer groups. The assumption made for these activities is that a process of interaction and co-operation between farmers and also with consumers, contributes to a more sustainable farming system. The role of Vredeseilanden is to coordinate the process, bring all relevant actors together, initiate the interaction between them, and beware of the sustainability of the initiative.
Four of the most interesting initiatives that have been developed or supported:
 - Food teams: group of 20 neighbouring households who by together farm products of neighbouring farmers. There are about 90 food teams in Flanders and they involve some 1.800 households and 80 farmers
 - Farm Mobile: initiative organising a mobile selling of farm products with co-operation of a training project for long-term unemployed woman organising the distribution.
 - Organic Farmers Market.
 - Boeregoed: label of regional farm products has been developed with a group of 10 farmers.
 - HHV: farmers cooperative that sells meat directly to consumers.
2. Exchange of knowledge and experiences between farmers: based on a methodology much used in Latin America called 'from farmer to farmer' a similar methodology has been developed, appropriate to the Belgian context. The objective again is to contribute to more sustainable farming systems through this exchange of knowledge and experience between farmers. The assumption made for these activities is that such an exchange has more impact compared to the top down vulgarisation systems that are commonly used in Belgium. Vredeseilanden has set up 6 farmer groups, each of them with their own specific objectives and in specific areas: e.g. direct selling of farm products (in various regions), direct selling of bovine meet, fruit growers, farmers working on small landscape elements.
3. Participatory and action research projects:
 - 1996-2000: a four year interdisciplinary study with the university of Ghent (Belgium) and Arlon (Belgium) on the potential of different forms of co-operation between farmers and consumers, and the role of governmental bodies to stimulate this potential. Besides the scientific reports, a book with the most interesting conclusions was published in French and Dutch.
 - 2003-2005: Suschain
 - 2004-2006: A study on "Instruments and institutions to develop local food systems", together with the University of Leuven.
4. Advocacy actions to support more sustainable agricultural systems:
 - Belgian campaign for a Code of Conduct on the Right to Adequate Food (FAO, UN).
 - Campaign during the Belgian Presidency of the European Union for a more sustainable Common Agricultural Policy.
 - Actions towards the Belgian Government concerning the Belgian position in the EU on the Agreements on Agriculture in the WTO with special attention to the position of Southern countries.
 - Actions towards the Belgian Government concerning the Belgian position in the EU on the midterm review of the Common Agricultural Policy with special attention to negative consequences for Southern countries.
 - Actions in order to integrate social standards into the European directives of organic agriculture.
 - Actions towards the 3 mains supermarkets in Belgium to promote a charter on sustainability of organic farming.

Role in the project

Vredeseilanden will carry out one Belgian case study (WP4) and play an active role in formulating recommendations (WP6) and the dissemination of the results (WP7). Vredeseilanden will also support P5 in the work to be done for the other WP's and give feedback on all deliverables produced by the consortium.

Scientific personnel involved

Ir. Chris Claes
Lieve Vercauteren