Mars Launches Initiative To Improve Farmer Income

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - ​Of the large mass of people living in poverty across the globe, many of them are small-time farmers, part of the 200 million people producing food within supply chains​, according to estimates from the World Bank​. Action is necessary to change this situation.

Food company Mars has launched the Farmer Income Lab, a 'think-do-tank' designed help improve the income of farmers in its supply chain. Through the lab, the company will invest in research that leads to practical insights and actions aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, which includes eradicating poverty.

Mars will initially carry out field tests with the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, with programs focused on in cocoa, mint and rice. These initial tests will provide insight and devise practical solutions, which it will share with the industry for bigger impact. Mars will be advised by academics, non-profits and intergovernmental organizations. Oxfam is the first NGO to become a member of the association.

“We will be working with a number of experts to help guide the Farmer Income Lab's work, and are delighted that Oxfam has agreed to serve as one of the Lab’s advisers. We value their deep subject matter expertise across a wide range of poverty and development issues. Together, we will work to build supply chains where everyone wins," Mars’ Chief Sustainability & Health and Wellbeing Officer, Barry Parkin, said in a statement. He added new members of the advisory panel will be announced soon.

The launch of the Farmer Income Lab is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.​ On top of that,​ Mars is currently carrying out research to new breeding, farming methods and protection against pests and disease for cocoa and other crops. It has also made public position statements about its procurement practices covering human rights, deforestation, income and other relevant issues.

This new initiative follows up on Mars’ previous efforts that included meetings with suppliers in various origin countries. By 2016, Mars managed to map 70 percent of its priority raw material and has achieved a 100 percent rate of certified supply for black tea and coffee. Its goal is to achieve a 100 percent rate for cocoa, fish and seafood and rice (especifically from the Sustainable Rice Platform Farmers).

Other recent actions include the signature of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding and increased investment in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire to $280 million (toward 2025). Mars has also launched The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming initiative with Danone. This investment fund​ will channel ​€120 million over ten years to​wards making ​agricultural supply chains more sustainable among smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Image credit: Mars​​