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