Sustainability numbers for 2019

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We take a holistic approach and measure what we achieve. Our 2019 report comes with new graphics and more details than ever before.

A question that we keep hearing at gebana is: How much do the family farmers earn? To which we reply that there isn’t a broad answer. We'll soon share a video that gives some background as to why that is. Here’s what we can say: In 2019, 82% of our sales remained in the South.

We continuously track the number of farming families from which we buy directly. There were 6,905 families last year – 865 fewer than in 2018.

The decrease is due to the fact that over half the families live in Togo. In 2019, some villages in the country decided to sell their products to another company. Most of them will work with us again in 2020.

In 2019, the average family in Burkina Faso farmed 8.4 hectares of land, the families in Togo cultivated an average of 1.9 hectares, and those in Brazil have fields of approximately 26 hectares.

Across the three countries, the overall land surface dedicated to organic agriculture amounted to 50,354 hectares last year.

There are costs associated with research and consulting for organic farming. There may be subsidies and research funds for this in Europe, but not in the South, so we have to self-finance. In 2019, we spent a total of 520,000 euros to strengthen sustainable agriculture in the South – 41% more than in 2018. The money was mainly used for consulting, training and certification for family farmers. gebana Brazil and gebana Togo also supported research in universities.

One of the big issues in the South is a lack of investment. Due to the continued political instability in countries like Burkina Faso or Togo, as well as a lack of infrastructure and safety, hardly any investors are showing interest. The risk of incurring losses is too great.

Yet investments are exactly the tools that can create opportunities in these countries. In 2019, we invested 689,000 euros in Togo, Burkina Faso and Brazil. Of this amount, 285,000 euros went to the processing plants in Burkina Faso and Brazil.

Not only was 2019 an economically successful year for gebana, it saw 86 new employees join the company. Of this number, 6 % work in Europe and the rest is in the South.

Wages are one of our greatest challenges. What should they be based on? On the national minimum wage? That isn’t nearly enough to secure the livelihood of a family.

In Burkina Faso, our lowest wage bracket exceeds the minimum wage by 39%. In Togo, we first reached the minimum wage in February 2020. We’re still working to improve the situation in Togo.

In many countries, the question of men’s work or women’s work doesn’t even come up. In Burkina Faso, for example, only women process cashews and dried mangoes. All in all, 86% of employees are women, and they make up 41% of management. Things are different in Togo. The majority of the activities there are related to agricultural or consulting and are carried out by men. The total proportion of women is almost 30%, none of which are in management positions.

Any talk of sustainability leads to the subject of packaging. Our credo revolves around the initial bulk packaging. In 2019, two thirds of the products from our online shop reached customers without ever being repackaged – and the trend is on the rise.

We also started implementing the gebana model in 2019. In this model, we give family farmers a direct share of the turnover from the sale of their products. In Burkina Faso, for example, we paid a total of 124,000 Swiss francs to 2,554 families between November 2019 and January 2020. This amount represents 10% of the sales of our cashew products and dry mangoes through the online shop.

In 2019, 92% of our sales through the online shop were from certified organic products. Around 1% of products are being converted to organic. The remaining 7% come from the sale of conventionally produced foods, including some of our seasoned nuts. The nuts are organic, but the spices are not, so the final product is not labelled as organic.

One rule at gebana is that if our work generates profit, we share it. 2019 was a profitable year. A third of the profit went to the employees in the North and the South, a third is currently being shared with our customers in the form of discounts, and a third goes to the investors.