Ethical Farming CampaignsThe Fairtrade label is a mark of ethically sourced products. Established in 1992, Fairtrade International works with more than 1.7 million farmers and laborers across more than 73 countries to help them secure fair prices for their crops, among other endeavors. Several Fairtrade campaigns aim to uphold the rights of farmers in developing countries.

5 Ethical Farming Campaigns

  1. The Living Incomes Campaign. Fairtrade certification on cocoa products does not guarantee farmers a living income, especially when the global price of cocoa falls, as it frequently does. A Fairtrade report from 2019, “Craving a Change in Chocolate,” found that the average income for cocoa farmers in Ghana stood at around a dollar a day, which is less than 50% of a living income, defined as enough to cover both farming costs and living essentials for a household. The U.K. Fairtrade Foundation launched the Living Incomes Campaign in 2019 to address the issue. The public campaign called on the government and chocolate industry to secure a living wage for the millions of families worldwide whose livelihoods depend on cocoa production. In addition to the usual income for their products and labor, farming co-operatives partnering with Fairtrade International receive a Fairtrade premium, “an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers or workers invest in projects of their choice,” according to Fairtrade International. Over the last five years, Fairtrade cocoa farming co-operatives have received more than £107 million (about $133 million) worth of Fairtrade premiums to put toward projects to improve their businesses and local communities.
  2. Fairtrade Flowers. Many of the flowers sold by major florists come from farms in Latin America and East Africa where employees, mostly women, often work in hazardous conditions and endure exploitation, discrimination and even sexual abuse. On Fairtrade flower farms, however, employees work in good working conditions with a “Fairtrade floor wage,” meaning wages must be higher than the international poverty line, even if that wage is higher than the local minimum. Workers are also empowered to decide how their farms’ Fairtrade premium is invested. By consciously choosing to purchase Fairtrade flowers, one can ensure employees in the flower industry have safer working environments, fair working terms and job security.
  3. Fairtrade Campaigns to Address Impacts of Extreme Weather Patterns. Farmers in developing countries across the world are experiencing recurrent extreme weather events, which impact income and food security. The Great Big Green Week in the U.K. is a gathering of supporters to show solidarity with farmers who are taking action to reduce the impacts of extreme weather patterns and establish climate resilience. This Fairtrade movement of supporters also calls on the U.K. government to provide funding to support these efforts of farmers and take greater action to address the issue of extreme weather events. This year’s Great Big Green Week will take place between June 10 to June 18, 2023 and involves several initiatives and efforts to take action and raise awareness. One can also get involved by signing a Community Declaration to call on the government to take action.
  4. Fairtrade Fortnight. The annual Fairtrade Fortnight, a two-week celebration of Fairtrade’s work, took place in the U.K. from February 27 to March 12, 2023. To mark the event, Fairtrade commissioned sustainability consultancy 3Keel to research the threats posed by extreme weather patterns to some of the U.K.’s best-loved food products, such as bananas, coffee and cocoa, sourced from developing countries. On February 28, 2023, the U.K. Fairtrade Foundation opened an “immersive retail space” called the Endangered Aisle on Shoreditch High Street, London. The pop-up event aimed to convey the need to protect the U.K.’s favorite foods and highlight the tangible actions that consumers can take to help out. Fairtrade also held seven online Big Fairtrade Get Togethers. Free of charge, these “Get Togethers” offered supporters the chance to hear experts and Fairtrade farmers discuss how to ensure a sustainable future for the U.K.’s favorite international foods.
  5. Fairtrade Communities. Over the course of the Fairtrade Fortnight, local Fairtrade communities organized more than 600 events across the U.K. Recognized since 2003, Fairtrade Community Groups consist of local people who care about improving the lives of low-income producers. Through local activism, these groups aim to encourage the sale of Fairtrade products, advocate for the Fairtrade cause with local politicians and spread awareness in schools, businesses and places of worship. The U.K.’s Fairtrade Foundation announced that this spring it will introduce a new online campaigning platform to facilitate Fairtrade campaigns and make it easier for new members to join the local Fairtrade community.

Looking Ahead

So many of the world’s favorite commodities depend on the work of farmers and employees in developing countries. By supporting ethical farming campaigns, one can ensure fair pay and decent working conditions for these workers and contribute to the establishment of a more sustainable global system of farming.

– Samuel Chambers
Photo: Flickr

Tackle Global Food Insecurity  
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has hindered Ukrainian agricultural production and jeopardized the food supply to the most vulnerable parts of the world. This threatens the food security of millions of people and hinders efforts to tackle global food insecurity.

The Breadbasket of Europe

Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest suppliers of sunflower products, barley, maize and wheat. Due to its ample agricultural land and vast production of grains, Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe.”

According to the United Nations, about 821 million people suffered from hunger in 2021. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on food prices and the supply of important food supplies has exacerbated hunger, especially among import-dependent developing countries in the Middle East and Africa. For instance, about half of the wheat imports in Tunisia and Lebanon come from Ukraine. Food prices are increasing, and according to the projections of the World Trade Organization, the world should expect further increases if the conflict does not resolve soon.

AGRI-Ukraine: Supporting Ukrainian Farmers

In 2022, the price of wheat increased by about 60%, largely due to the impacts of the Russian invasion, a consequence that significantly affects net food-importing countries. During these times of crisis, support for Ukrainian farmers will help to tackle global food insecurity.

In January 2023, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and German multinational biotechnology company Bayer agreed to donate “high-quality vegetable seeds to Ukrainian farmers” to “bolster Ukraine’s export and agricultural sector needs,” the USAID website explains.

Bayer has partnered with USAID’s Agriculture Resilience Initiative for Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine). This initiative builds on the previously established partnership between AGRI-Ukraine and Bayer, launched in October 2022, to specifically aid Ukrainian farmers and tackle global food insecurity.

Bayer will provide Ukrainian farmers with carrot seeds and USAID will distribute the donation to destitute farmers, with a foremost focus on households in “newly-liberated areas.” The first batch will cover as many as 25,000 homes and smallholder farmers, and over the growing cycle, USAID and Bayer will assess the need for more seeds.

This is a notable example of what can be achieved when the U.S. government and the private sector join forces. These kinds of partnerships have a tremendous positive impact on countries in need of aid.

Bayer for Ukraine

Bayer has supported Ukraine’s agriculture sector for more than 25 years. As part of its participation in AGRI-Ukraine, Bayer is additionally committing more than $35 million to increase the capacity of its Ukraine-based seed processing facility. Furthermore, the German multinational company has contributed “more than 40,000 bags of corn seed” and additional monetary support to secure a “mechanical mine clearing machine” for 1,750 small-scale farmers, enabling them to conduct their farming activities safely with the support of the U.S. Department of State-funded demining activities.

AGRI-Ukraine supports Ukrainian farmers’ access to necessary agricultural commodities, such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. Such efforts substantially increase the capacity of Ukrainian businesses to process agricultural goods and export them successfully on the international market.

Restriction in world trade has a snowball effect that impacts the entire global system. An export restriction in one country might provoke export restrictions in other countries, which will cause shortages in goods that states cannot supply themselves. Likewise, the war in Ukraine disrupts food markets, mainly through increasing prices for grains and oilseeds, which has dire ramifications for developing countries in the Middle East and Africa. Bayer’s contribution to AGRI-Ukraine illustrates the benefits of government and private sector collaborations and how joint efforts can help to resolve even the most complex issues.

– Nino Basaria
Photo: Flickr

farmworker rightsIn February 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a $2.5 million grant to promote farmworker rights abroad. The funding will go toward evaluating and expanding the Fair Food Program (FFP) model. Specifically, the funds will support a pilot project in cut flower farms in three countries — Chile, Mexico and South Africa. In an industry rife with issues like human trafficking, poor and risky working conditions and sexual violence and harassment, the FFP offers a promising model for ensuring the health and safety of farmworkers worldwide.

What is the Fair Food Program?

The FFP is a legally-binding agreement between workers, growers and buyers. As a Worker-Driven Social Responsibility (WSR) initiative, the FFP “is designed, monitored and enforced by the very workers whose rights it is intended to protect.” Participating growers and buyers commit to respecting the rights outlined in the FFP worker-crafted “Code of Conduct” and other measures ensuring the health and safety of farmworkers.

Growers enjoy purchasing preferences from some of the world’s largest retail buyers, including Whole Foods and Walmart. Further, both growers and buyers benefit from the use of the FFP certification mark on qualifying goods. That is because the certificate attracts consumers in search of ethically-sourced food. Finally, increased worker retention, decreased worker compensation claims and decreased administrative and legal fees incentivize growers to participate.

The program emerged from years of grassroots labor organizing by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker-based human rights organization representing tomato industry workers in Immokalee, Florida. What began in 1993 as a small group fighting for fair pay grew into a nationally and internationally lauded organization. The CIW played a crucial role in freeing more than 1,000 enslaved farmworkers in the Southeastern United States.  Significantly, it created the FFP in 2001 as a framework for preventing the abuses its anti-slavery and fair food campaigns continuously work to address.

Historic Success of the Program

Overseen by the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC), the FFP has proved itself as an extremely successful and scalable model for protecting farmworker rights. In addition to partnering with retailers as buyers, the FFP partners with growers who employ farmworkers across 11 states. Within the past year, the FFP has expanded into consumer packaged goods. This opens the door to a wide range of food products. Finally, the program has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the MacArthur Genius Award, the U.S. Presidential Medal and a James Beard Foundation Award.

Building on the success of FFP, the FFSC’s grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will enable further international growth. By identifying barriers and opportunities, the pilot will determine the feasibility of expanding the FFP model.

The Importance of Protecting Farmworker Rights

Just as labor rights are inextricable from human rights, fair compensation and safe working conditions are tied to poverty reduction efforts. Though the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports a decline in the proportion of working people living in extreme and moderate poverty since the turn of the century,  21% of the world’s workers fell into one of these two categories in 2018.  Extremely poor people live in households with a per capita income of less than $1.90 a day and moderately poor people live in households with a per capita income between $1.90 and $3.30 a day. Protecting worker rights, particularly through WSR programs like the FFP, presents a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty.

Promoting farmworker rights also results in meaningful commercial benefits. Because employee retention dramatically increases when workers are treated fairly and have a voice in their workplace, it follows that failure to protect the rights of workers can lead to lower levels of high-skilled employees, reducing business stability. Studies show that “in their criteria for choosing countries in which to invest, foreign investors rank workforce quality and political and social stability above low labor costs,” the ILO notes.

Initiatives such as the FFP also emerge as important components of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) given farmworkers’ on-the-ground, intimate knowledge of agricultural practices. A joint report by the ILO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations makes this connection abundantly clear.  The report urges governments and organizations to acknowledge the crucial role of agricultural workers and their unions in sustainable development and sustainable agriculture goal-setting and decision-making.

Global Coalition to Protect Labor Rights

This $2.5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor underscores the department’s push to protect labor rights, including farmworker rights in the U.S. and abroad. By promoting initiatives like the FFP, the department joins a broad team of organizations and government agencies across the world working to eradicate human rights abuses in global supply chains; create pathways out of poverty and ultimately build a stronger, more sustainable world economy.

– Hannah Carrigan
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Sector in Africa
The 2022 Global Report on Food Crises 2022 Mid-Year Update estimates that acute food insecurity affects 140 million individuals in Africa. Agriculture has a significant social and economic impact on Africa — according to a McKinsey&Company analysis in 2019, smallholder farmers account for more than 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population and agriculture accounts for around 23% of the region’s GDP. The analysis also determines that Africa has the potential to multiply its cereal and grain output threefold. Nonetheless, most of Africa’s agricultural potential remains unexplored. However, realizing the full agricultural ability of Africa will require investments in fertilizers, irrigation, storage, infrastructure and more. Hello Tractor seeks to advance agricultural productivity in Africa.

Agriculture in Africa constitutes one of the primary sources of income as roughly two-thirds of Africa’s people work in the agricultural sector in Africa. Rural farmers have found it difficult to increase their productivity and their capacity to generate more food because of the “cost of mechanizing agriculture,” the World Economic Forum says.

Hello Tractor’s Solution

Jehiel Oliver, the founder of Hello Tractor, tells Forbes that African smallholder farmers typically lack access to the agricultural equipment necessary to expand cultivation and increase yields due to the high costs and no access to financing.

“I realized, if farmers have access to a tractor, that’s as good as owning one,” Oliver tells Forbes. He then started Hello Tractor in 2014, initially in Nigeria, where, via a digital app, one can establish a link between the tractor owner and the farmers, where the latter can rent the tractor to farmers to increase agricultural production and generate greater profits.

Hello Tractor implemented innovative digital tools with the purpose of connecting tractor owners, operators and farmers. The app includes several features. For instance, tractor owners can utilize GPS monitoring to oversee the movement of the tractor and find out information on the active and inactive hours and the number of trips made. Through the app, one can also monitor the fuel consumed by the tractor, the fuel prices and the scheduled activities for each tractor in the field.

“Hello Tractor technology makes fleet management easier and more profitable, supporting every aspect of your fleet from managing your tractor operators to your farmer customers,” its website says. Besides operating in 15 African countries, Hello Tractor also works in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guatemala and Jamaica.

Pay-as-you-go Model

In January 2022, Hello Tractor launched the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) financing program for the agricultural sector in Africa, which “aims to significantly increase the number of tractors available to service farmers across sub-Saharan Africa by providing flexible financing to entrepreneurial youth and women who want to buy equipment to provide mechanization services to farmers in their network,” Ventures Africa says. The PAYG program is supplying $10 million in tractor loans, reaching more than 111,000 additional farmers. The program has the potential to generate at least 3,500 new jobs.

Hello Tractor is currently collaborating with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and John Deere on a five-year plan to deploy 10,000 tractors. Using the pay-as-you-go system, the government will implement a model that “allows tractors to be leased to new owners over a defined period of time, before being resold to them at a discount,” Oliver told Forbes, with Hello Tractor as an implementation partner.

By the end of five years, Hello Tractor predicts that the initiative will generate 2 million jobs and 37 million tonnes of food using 9 million hectares of agricultural land.

The Impact of Hello Tractor on Farmers

As of August 2022, Hello Tractor has provided tractor services to more than 500,000 farmers, with 55% of them obtaining their first mechanization services through the company. Approximately 87% of these farmers reported gains in profits as a result of mechanization access.

Through the services of Hello Tractor, farmers have the opportunity to gain greater and more precise information on the types of crops to produce, when to ideally cultivate the crops and even the worth of the final harvest. Smallholder farmers can also more easily qualify for bank loans and grow their businesses by providing the banks with projections “based on verifiable targets” from Hello Tractor.

Looking Ahead

In 2021, Fortune’s Change the World list featured Hello Tractor as one of 53 companies using innovation and creativity to address issues impacting communities.

Accessible and inexpensive tractor services for smallholder farmers through this game-changing technology has the potential to boost agricultural output and farmer revenue in the agricultural sector in Africa, resulting in a more secure food system and less poverty.

– Elena Luisetto
Photo: Flickr

Zimbabwean Farmers
Zimbabwe has faced several economic issues during the past two decades. The country’s economy has gone through a series of reforms and crises. All this has had a major impact on the poverty situation in the country. Between 2019 and 2020, Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic challenges, a record drought, cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 pandemic affected the country. Today, the economic regressions that the country has faced are having negative impacts on the daily lives of Zimbabwean farmers.

Agricultural Zimbabwe

Agriculture is the pillar of Zimbabwean society. It provides income for around 70% of the population, supplies almost 60% of the raw materials that the industrial sector necessary and contributes 40% of total export earnings. While the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe remains the largest employer of labor in the country, the official wage of farm laborers is around 78,000 Zimbabwean dollars. With the inflation rate at around 180%, many farmers are struggling to stay afloat financially and have resorted to working at multiple jobs simultaneously. Other challenges that farm laborers and smallholder farmers faced are droughts, poor soil fertility, low investment, shortages of farm power, poor physical and institutional infrastructure and recurring food insecurity.

Struggles of Farmers

In addition to the financial crisis, farmers in Zimbabwe also suffer from bad treatment in their workplaces. Many farmers and farm laborers have to live in colonial-era shacks known as “makomboni.” According to Al-Jazeera, many have to contend with living in “renovated pigsties, tobacco barns, and horse stables on farms where they work.” Laborers are often unable to provide basic means for their families and get into debt with money lenders and their employers. The issues that the farmers of Zimbabwe faced are a testament to the economic predicament that the country is facing today.

Loss Of Profit

For cash crops such as cotton, which usually brings much financial success to farmers, rising inflation rates and poor currency means that they no longer get the desired profits of cotton farming. Besides inflation, two of the biggest issues that cotton farmers face are corruption and falling prices. Back in 2017, the price of a single kilogram of cotton was around $1.51. As cotton now is sold solely in Zimbabwean dollars, farmers gain little to no profit for their arduous labor. Nowadays the price of a single kilogram of cotton hovers between $0.53 and $0.68, almost a 66% decrease in less than six years. Corruption is also a huge issue. In 2022, the chair of the Zimbabwe parliament’s portfolio committee on land and agriculture was arrested for a case relating to the stockpiling of cotton farming inputs.

Another crop that is faltering is maize. As a result of changing weather patterns, droughts are becoming more frequent and harsher in Zimbabwe. Thereby, threatening the production of the maize crop which is a staple in the country. A government assessment estimated that Zimbabwe’s maize production fell by almost 43% in the 2021-2022 season due to the lack of rainfall. Many farmers have received orders to sell their stocks to the state in order to replenish low stocks. However, many are holding onto their stocks because the prices on offer are so miserly.

Hope For the Industry

Zimbabwean farmers are struggling to make ends meet. The economic crisis that the state faced is severely affecting the livelihood of farmers and farm laborers. Changing weather patterns are also having a severe impact on the production of import crops such as maize and cotton. However, hope still exists for the industry. Young farmers in Zimbabwe are leading the drive for the new generation. They are diversifying by growing fruits such as mangoes, rearing livestock such as Boer goats and cultivating tobacco. They are practicing sustainable methods that provide hope for farmers in Zimbabwe.

– Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

Precision Farming
Precision farming or the use of advanced technologies to improve agricultural efficiency and output is a growing industry with the potential to completely transform the farming sector worldwide. Through the use of intelligent algorithms, advanced mechanisms and fledgling inventions, precision farming has the possibility of saving time, money and resources for generations to come. In fact, for nearly 78% of impoverished citizens worldwide who rely primarily on agricultural means to sustain their lives, combined governmental investment in precision farming could mark the turning point into an exponential rise in income, quality of life and sustainability for the rest of their lives.

What is Precision Farming?

Precision farming, a subsector of the agricultural industry, is an advanced technique of utilizing novel technologies and mechanics to maximize crop output while minimizing the levels of traditional inputs needed to grow crops. The use of automated irrigation systems, drone-based planting and intelligent path-generation tools are all examples of ways to implement this approach on a large scale. In places where even the smallest savings make a huge difference, methods like these would benefit farmers by saving precious commodities like fuel, fertilizer, herbicide and water. Indeed, a 2021 study found that precision farming across the United States resulted in a 25% increase in wheat yields compared to the 1980 levels. It resulted in millions of dollars saved from a nearly 10% drop in herbicide and pesticide usage nationwide.


In countries like Vietnam, the practice of precision farming has already begun to yield remarkable results. For years, paddy farming has been the cornerstone of rural employment in the country. Yet, it has remained an arduous and costly process that places a heavy demand on precious water resources. However, with the introduction of the Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) irrigation method, many of those hurdles were overcome. Through this technique, water requirements for farming reduced by up to 28%, while methane emissions decreased by almost 50%. Furthermore, in order to help finance and maintain these efforts, the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility funded a plan to make the irrigation process easier to access and understand for the average citizen. As a result of these initiatives, Vietnamese farmers have reduced water usage in their paddy farming operations. This has led to increased prosperity and strengthened their overall economic positions.


Brazil stands as yet another testament to the immense potential of precision farming. Since the technology’s debut in 1980, Brazil has experienced unprecedented agronomic growth with a 206% increase in national grain yield and a 394% increase in production. With the introduction of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), advanced pesticide deployment and targeting were employed throughout the country, which proved to be much more effective than the traditional methods. Soil research and analysis also proved instrumental. Through these methods, farmers could more accurately and efficiently find the optimal sites for their crops and maximize output. As a result of these tremendous efforts, Brazil managed to lower its poverty headcount ratio by almost 94%, from 30.6% in 1983 to just 1.9% of the population in 2020.

Next Steps in Revolutionizing Agriculture

Although some nations have taken many commendable steps to incorporate precision farming into their industries, much work remains. Greater funding of government programs and increased public awareness of the benefits of precision farming are two crucial factors that can help drive progress in this area. Continued investment in precision farming and collaboration to overcome existing challenges can help create more sustainable and prosperous farming practices for all.

– Sanjith Sambath
Photo: Flickr

King Charles’ Charitable Efforts
As Prince of Wales, Charles has long since made great efforts to transform lives and build sustainable communities. He has been a patron to more than 400 charities and in the last 10 years has raised approximately £140 million. However, as he takes his place as King, his new duties will necessarily require him to take a step back. Though expected to continue most of Elizabeth II’s 600 patronage involvements, he may have to offload or even entirely reconsider some of these commitments. What is sure is that Charles deeply values charitable action, and intends to go to great lengths to continue championing its cause.

King Charles’ Charitable Efforts as Prince

Charles waited his turn to become King for more than 70 years, an extended period that galvanized him to make a difference while Prince. By principle, he advocated a streamlining of the Monarchy, reducing expenditure that could make room for charitable efforts such as improving living conditions in some of the world’s poorest regions.

He has founded charities such as the Prince’s Foundation, an educational organization that aims to create a sustainable future for people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as the Prince’s Trust, which works towards a similar goal but exclusively within the United Kingdom.

Foremost among King Charles’ charitable efforts is establishing the Turquoise Mountain foundation, an NGO that works to protect heritage and communities around the world, providing “jobs, education and a renewed sense of pride” in developing regions. Since 2006, it has treated more than 160,000 patients at its Kabul clinic, built more than 50 small businesses in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Middle East, and helped preserve precious cultures while driving economic development.
Another prominent accomplishment is his founding of Duchy Originals in the early 1990s, with the goal of improving “soil fertility, biodiversity and human health.” His interest in the environment dates back to the 1960s, long before it was ubiquitously supported. The brand donates all its profits to charitable causes, and in the decade since partnering with Waitrose, a leading British supermarket, in 2009 turned over more than £30 million.

The Legacy of Elizabeth II

As impressive as Charles’ own track record is, he will be succeeding his mother Elizabeth II who has been hailed by some as the most charitable monarch in history, having raised more than £1.4 billion for charities in her lifetime.
This succession raises some doubt surrounding the future of fundraising. The first big question concerns what will become of Charles’ previous charitable duties. According to The Conversation, it is generally understood that William will take on the majority, though there are some who doubt if William will be quite as involved in the minutiae of advocacy as his father was, and whether this could affect performance.
Secondly, exactly what will become of Elizabeth II’s patronage is unknown. Though Charles could take on the majority, some commitments could be up for review in the near future.

Charles’ Pledges for the Future

What Charles has so far indicated for certain as King is that, according to his Christmas speech in 2022, charitable organizations “which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult of circumstances” will remain an integral part of his focus.
Though he has only been on the throne for a short period, among King Charles’ charitable efforts thus far has been a new £1.95 million pledge from the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund (PWCF) to seven personally important causes. One of these recipients will be Practical Action, which aims to support farmers in their transition to regenerative farming approaches in sub-Saharan Africa. This is not only beneficial to the environment; it secures the posterity of local farmers. Practical Action will receive £390,000.

Charles’ early actions as king and his impressive charitable efforts as Prince of Wales show that, despite questions over leadership roles in the wake of his succession, the fight against poverty will continue to receive a great deal of support and advocacy from the British Monarchy.

– Gabriel Gathercole
Photo: Flickr

Insect Farming to Reduce Food Insecurity
InsectiPro is a Kenyan company that engages in insect farming to reduce food insecurity in Africa. With growing populations in Africa comes an increasing demand for food sources, but the current food supply outweighs the demand. The 2022 Global Report on Food Crises 2022 Mid-Year Update highlights that, at minimum, one in five people in Africa ends the day without meeting their food needs and about 140 million individuals in Africa endure acute levels of food insecurity. InsectiPro is creating “sustainable, nutritious and profitable systems” with its unique solution to food poverty. The company focuses on achieving four of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an aim to end poverty and inequality: dissolving hunger and malnutrition (SDG 2), “industry and innovation” (SDG 9), “responsible consumption and production” (SDG 12) and engaging in partnerships (SDG 17).

The Work of InsectiPro

InsectiPro farms black soldier flies and crickets on a large, commercial scale, ensuring there is a bulk supply of a nutritious food source for people in Kenya. This is important work considering the World Bank’s report in 2020 that 26.1% of Kenya’s population suffers from severe levels of food insecurity. In Kenya, locally sourced meat and fish are expensive, especially for impoverished families. Instead of getting rid of insects that farmers often find on their lands, these insects could be used as an alternative food source. InsectiPro looks to “make insect consumption widely accepted,” The Index Project says.

How Does InsectiPro Operate?

The company grows crickets in “stackable crates,” which maximizes farming space as opposed to utilizing spans of farmland. An adult female cricket can lay as many as 100 eggs each day, and since they prefer to lay their eggs in damp, warm areas, the crates that InsectiPro uses provide an ideal breeding environment. Once 10 days pass, the InsectiPro team transfers crickets to feeding trays, where they remain for a further five weeks. Then, the crickets are “harvested, frozen, thawed and baked,” How we made it in Africa reports. The company currently offers three types of cricket products — porridge, a powder and a crunchy snack.

Insects as a Food Source

Crickets are a very valuable food source due to their protein-rich nature and essential amino acid content. Studies indicate that crickets may contain up to 73% of protein. The fact that crickets contain up to three more complete proteins compared to a piece of beef of the same weight and provide higher levels of iron, vitamins and fiber illustrates their nutritional value.

Black soldier flies are also high in protein and can stand as a sustainable food option. Farming insects to reduce food insecurity also has the potential to address protein deficiencies that could manifest in malnutrition and life-threatening conditions, such as kwashiorkor and marasmus. Therefore, in the aim to make nations in Africa more food secure and healthy, plentiful supplies of protein in the form of crickets have significant potential.

Plans for the Future

InsectiPro currently works in Kenya, but the company has already received requests to export its goods to other nations. The practice of growing insects in Africa is becoming more and more prominent because of its vast benefits. The company has received a certificate from the local bureau of standards and is also focusing its attention on regional markets. InsectiPro has plans to expand to Uganda in 2023 and Rwanda in 2024 but says it will stick to farming the insects commonly consumed in those areas, namely, grasshoppers.

Insect farming to reduce food insecurity is a revolutionary idea that could become more popular in the near future. Addressing food insecurity is a vital part of tackling poverty and the unique work of InsectiPro is a positive step in the right direction.

– Ruby Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Farmers in Africa
The One Acre Fund is a Kenya-based social enterprise that believes “farmers are the key to achieving food security and prosperity.” Yet, in sub-Saharan Africa, farmers account for most individuals surviving on just a dollar per day. The One Acre Fund supports farmers in the nine African countries that are responsible for the production of 80% of Africa’s food supply. The One Acre Fund website highlights that by 2030, about 90% of individuals surviving on a dollar a day will reside in sub-Saharan Africa. With statistics such as these, it is clear to see why One Acre Fund has a particular focus on farmers in sub-Saharan Africa specifically. The social enterprise works to reduce poverty by providing farmers with vital supplies and training to increase yields and bring in more income with a goal to benefit 10 million farmers by 2030.

The Importance of Supporting Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers depend on the crops they cultivate not only to gain a stable income but also to feed themselves and their families. By helping farmers just as the One Acre Fund does, farming families are able to secure a more stable supply of food all year round and perhaps even a surplus yield, benefiting nutrition and overall food security. Global Citizen highlights that “financing for farmers pays for itself — every $1 invested in agricultural research by demand-driven research institutions such as the CGIAR generates $6 or more in benefits, such as increased farmer income and better health and educational outcomes for community members.”

The One Acre Fund Training Programs

When it comes to boosting the success of smallholder farmers, receiving quality agricultural training is just as important as having quality supplies. One Acre Fund provides direct and personalized training to farmers to improve productivity and yields. For instance, farmers learn beneficial planting techniques, how to prepare the land for planting, how to prevent infestations of diseases and pests and battle unexpected barriers in growing crops, among other topics.

The One Acre Fund aims to provide farmers with the knowledge and skills to improve climate resiliency, considering that Africa often faces extreme weather conditions, such as floods and drought. The training of smallholder farmers not only enhances their knowledge and skills but also advances their independence and allows farmers to pass down the knowledge to more people in their communities to multiply the impact of the training.

Last Mile Delivery

In 2021, 58% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lived in rural areas with many of these areas being remote and lacking infrastructure and road networks. This lack of connectedness introduces a new obstacle when it comes to delivering smallholder farmers the necessary resources to thrive agriculturally, like seeds and other essential farming supplies.

The One Acre Fund introduced the Last Mile Delivery strategy to ensure farmers in the most remote places can access essential resources that will help break the cycle of poverty. In order to do this, the social enterprise delivers through three pathways: retail shops, field officers and trials of online apps. One Acre Fund utilizes “geotagging software to pinpoint and monitor activity at each delivery site” to make sure farmers receive the supplies. Even if there are no proper roads because of a lack of infrastructure in under-developed areas, alternative modes of transport are utilized for deliveries, such as tractors and motorcycles.

The One Acre Fund’s Impacts

In 2021, the efforts of One Acre Fund benefited the lives and livelihoods of 3.2 million farmers. The social enterprise has expanded the income of farmers by about 40% annually, resulting in “$210 million in new farm profits,” its website says. One Acre Fund has provided job opportunities to about 9,500 individuals, mainly from rural locations. The social enterprise highlights a successful return on investment: “$2.70 new farm profits created for every $1 of donor investment.” Overall, the work of social enterprises such as the One Acre Fund betters the lives of disadvantaged smallholder farmers in Africa by increasing agricultural yields and reducing poverty.

– Ruby Wallace
Photo: Flickr

Indonesian Coffee Farming
Indonesia is not the world’s largest exporter of coffee, but its coffee industry is nothing to scoff at when it employs millions of coffee farmers annually. Coffee farming is a profitable industry in Indonesia. The Asian nation has an ideal climate for coffee bean growth and has had incredible coffee output, averaging the production of more than 600,000 tons of coffee or 4 million bags. International aid organizations are beginning new initiatives and investments to solidify economic stability, decrease poverty rates and end gender disparities.

Indonesia’s Gender Disparities and Poverty

Indonesia is notorious for its patriarchal attitudes and the U.N. has ranked Indonesia 85th out of 149 countries for its gender wage gaps. Its ranking is among the highest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with women earning less than 60% of their male counterparts, despite often having the same levels of education.

Indonesia has widespread economic gender disparities, which could make women more likely to live in or fall into poverty than the male population. Data from the Central Statistics Agency recorded that in March 2022, at least 9% of Indonesia’s population lives in poverty. To combat the poverty rates that put women at a disadvantage in comparison to Indonesian men, women are seeking out jobs in sectors with greater chances for a steady and reliable income, mainly in agriculture.

According to a Springer Journal study, women lack access to training for sustainable farming practices, marketing and managing businesses connected to the agricultural sector. However, crop yields and production would likely increase by 2.5-4% if women were to integrate into the agricultural workforce. By 2018, 49% of Indonesia’s agricultural workforce consisted of women. Without them, agricultural stability would decrease, with the rural economy losing significant income and poverty rates increasing.

Indonesian Coffee Farming Practices

Agriculture is one of Indonesia’s three dominant business sectors. In 2021, it was responsible for 13% of the nation’s GDP. Agriculture has historically been one of the primary sources of income for Indonesians. Indonesia’s agriculture sector is a crucial global producer, with coffee as one of its critical exports. Since the 1960s, Indonesian coffee farming has steadily grown and expanded to offer more and more job opportunities for farmers nationwide.

Indonesian coffee farming occurs mainly on small shareholder farms. Small shareholder farms are beneficial as they safely sustain the economy of the rural populations, help with expanding markets and protect natural resources. Protecting natural resources is especially helpful as Indonesia relies on its agricultural systems.

This farming practice involves renting or not owning a great deal of land on which the coffee is grown. Coffee plantations cover 1.24 million hectares and small-shareholder farmers operate more than 90% of Indonesia’s coffee farming land, according to Indonesia Investments. Each farmer works on only one to two hectares. The small sizes of the farms might not seem impressive, but the reliability of the farms entices investors worldwide. Indonesia’s government works to revitalize the land at any sign of slowing output and international aid organizations work to keep Indonesian coffee farming a viable option for jobs, especially as women take more jobs in the sector to end the wage gaps.

Female Coffee Farmers Taking Indonesia By Storm

Women are integrating into the coffee workforce at an incredible rate and are working as small shareholder farmers. Even though female farmers lack formal training, in some regions of Indonesia, they are 80% of the coffee farming workforce. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) began working with Indonesia’s female coffee farmers to train them to improve their productivity and increase their income. Working on a flexible schedule, the IFC trained 1,600 women and helped open new loan businesses that cater to Indonesia’s coffee farming needs. The number of female coffee farmers trained rose to 27%, up from 16%, and productivity and income improved by 92% on average. Helping female coffee farmers improve their productivity and market profitability will bring them new economic opportunities to lift them out of poverty and improve local economies.

USAID announced its new program, Indonesia Coffee Enterprise Resilience Initiative (Resilient Coffee). The program creates partnerships with Keurig Dr. Pepper and Root Capital, a U.S.-based non-government organization. The program intends to provide credit for Indonesia’s rural agricultural businesses. USAID Indonesia Mission Director Jeff Cohen stated that the program, “expand[s] public-private capacity and commitment to strengthening and increasing inclusive economic growth, as well as prioritizing investment in women’s economic empowerment.” USAID’s new program will expand Indonesian coffee farming’s economic opportunities and “invest in women’s economic empowerment.” Empowering female coffee farmers will help end the gender wage gap and poverty struggles while bringing new economic opportunities to the region that benefit all involved.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr