John Deere is recognized worldwide for its agricultural and construction equipment and machinery. From tractors in the countryside to lawnmowers in the suburbs, most people are familiar with the brand and recognize their logo. What many might not realize, however, is the global presence and philanthropy of the brand through their efforts with their charitable division, The John Deere Foundation (JDF). In 2017 alone, the John Deere Foundation made $33.4 million in charitable contributions and recorded 160,688 employee volunteer hours. The John Deere Foundation has made tremendous strides in combating world hunger, developing communities and increasing access to education in developing countries through their grants, sponsorships and volunteerism.
What They Do
A primary focus of the John Deere Foundation is addressing world hunger by helping smallholder farmers in developing countries build profitable businesses. They offer agricultural training, teach entrepreneurial and financial skills and introduce mechanized farming. Their grants invest in partnerships with rent-to-own contractors who provide the machines needed to take smallholder farmers beyond a hand-to-mouth business.
The John Deere Foundation also focuses on helping at-risk youth and adults receive an education, particularly in agriculture, and offers scholarship opportunities, improvement of school infrastructure and teacher training. They also help develop communities by contributing to the development of their business environments and providing such things as sanitation facilities, health awareness and access to more jobs.
The John Deere Foundation Helps Farmers in Africa
The John Deere Foundation has had a powerful global impact, especially in Africa and Asia. They have contributed millions in grant money to NGOs that fight global hunger in Africa. Since 2013, the John Deere Foundation has partnered with the nonprofit TechnoServe to assist farmers in Kenya and Ghana. The partnership with TechnoServe greatly increased the impact of the John Deere Foundation in these countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, farmers traditionally own only a few acres of land and produce barely enough to make a living. TechnoServe’s Mobile Training Unit offers videos on the sides of box trucks that travel across rural communities in Kenya and Ghana to help dairy and grain farmers. They visit these communities several times throughout the year in accordance with their growing cycles. TechnoServe creates videos to help farmers learn new skills and encourage good agricultural and conservation practices. They have exceeded their expectations and helped more than 47,000 farmers develop their businesses through their mobile training unit and demonstration plots.
The John Deere Foundation Helps Farmers in Asia
In 2014, the John Deere Foundation partnered with Mercy Corps to create the POWER (Promoting Organizations that Work to Empower Rice Farmers) program in Indonesia to help rice farmers connect with resources to grow their businesses and earn more profit. The John Deere Foundation believes Indonesia’s rice farmers are vital players in addressing world hunger. Residents in the country consume an estimated 300 pounds of rice per person annually, and the population is projected to increase by 360 million by 2050. As the smallholder farmers struggled to meet the increasing demands of the population, the POWER program was implemented to help them increase their productivity without increasing their workload. POWER assessed the specific needs of Indonesian rice farmers, such as a lack of access to high-quality seeds and fertilizer and market opportunities. They developed a three-year program to train local farmers to become entrepreneurs. It has helped more than 8,310 smallholder rice farmers and increased the average household income by 13 percent.
The impact of the John Deere Foundation was recognized in 2017 when it received the Best Community Improvement Award for its work with the JIVA (Joint Initiative for Global Advancement) program in India. Developed in partnership with PYXERA Global, the John Deere Foundation volunteers worked side-by-side with local farmers and helped introduce new farming techniques, such as line sowing and vermicomposting, a practice of using various species of worms to create more healthy soil for crops.
JIVA also played a major role in improving education. Their community-first approach recognized a need to address the integral relationship between education and prosperity at large in these communities. Their work resulted in a 90 percent pass rate for 10th grade students and an increase in overall household income by nearly 1.5 million dollars across the communities they served. In addition, JIVA developed infrastructure projects that gave farmers such things as drip irrigation and supplied toilets in local schools. As farmers began to profit from their labor, they invested more in education as well.
These are only a few examples that highlight the significant impact of the John Deere Foundation. Their grants and partnership with organizations across the globe have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of farmers and at-risk communities in developing countries. By 2020, the John Deere Foundation hopes to have one million recorded volunteer hours. The combination of expert knowledge and altruism has resulted in a foundation that has made great strides to combat world hunger and will continue to do so more and more each year.
– Christina Laucello