New Mars Farmer Income Lab Aims to Address Farmer Poverty

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Nutritional giant Mars, maker of M&M’s and other brands, is launching a program that aims to stimulate collaboration in smallholder farmer incomes across agricultural supply chains.

Why This Matters

Farmer poverty is really a business resilience issue for Mars and the entire agricultural industry.

According to the World Bank, an estimated 200 million* smallholder farmers are producing food within supply chains and far too many of them live on $2 a day and in many cases, extreme poverty. The current supply chain model isn’t working and it’s time for change.

The incentive to Mars is large – Mars and others simply won’t be able to buy the raw ingredients — like cocoa, rice and vanilla — that they depend on to create the brands their consumers love, should smallholder farms start failing.

The lab was founded by Mars in part as “an incubator for insights that can be put into action in through sustainable sourcing strategies that may start with Mars but could extend much further,” the announcement says.

The Program’s Plan

The Farmer Income Lab plans to invest in and commission research to generate dialogue and develop measurable frameworks, new business models to reduce farmer poverty.

The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, as well as Mars’ programs in cocoa, mint and rice, will provide a way of testing the insights and implementing the new models for dramatically improving farmer incomes.

Mars helping smallholder farmers is not new. The candy company recognizes the need to make sure their farmer suppliers continue to have the ability to supply the raw materials it needs in the future. See a video of John Cordaro, Global Business Advisor at Mars.

Sources: Farmer Income Lab, World Bank