Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification program will help increase the revenue and profitability of Farmer Producer Organizations so they can support smallholder farmers to build successful businesses.
Mexico City /PRNewswire/ - As COVID-19 cases in Mexico continue to rise, the Walmart Foundation and Heifer International today announced a partnership to strengthen local food systems by improving the profitability of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). The 32-month initiative, Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification, will support 13 FPOs in Oaxaca and Chiapas to increase their profits by expanding training and other services for dairy and beef farmers, enabling smallholder farmers to access new resources.
Through improved production practices, Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification will help farmers produce and verify high-quality milk and meat, so they can access formal markets and secure fairer prices for their products. By connecting smallholder farmers to more reliable income streams, the program aims to close the living income gap – the difference between current incomes and the money needed to live a dignified life – by $660 per year.
"Working with families to reach a living income is at the core of Heifer Mexico's programs to build resilient, thriving farming communities," said Gustavo Maldonado, country director at Heifer Mexico. "By improving the operations, training, and resources that producer organizations provide to farmers, we are creating a platform for farmers and businesses to earn more money, providing long-term stability."
The FPOs will be trained in farm level economic analysis in order to develop a business plan to help professionalize their role in the beef and dairy value chain. By 2023, Heifer Mexico will train 65 master trainers who will continue to support FPO members beyond the program's end date.
Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification will prioritize gender equity training, including on dynamic gender inclusion for FPO board members and leadership training for all members. The program aims to position more women to participate in income-generating activities and take up leadership roles within the FPOs, challenging social and cultural attitudes that limit their financial independence and access to markets. The program will also provide technical training in processing, quality control and how to work with other actors in the supply chain.
"This program bolsters the power of Farmer Producer Organizations in Mexico to help advance gender equity," said Julie Gehrki, vice president, philanthropy at the Walmart Foundation. "With a focus on increasing women's membership and leadership in organizations, the program will address historical gender inequities by increasing understanding, fostering financial empowerment, building technical skills and growing market access for women smallholder farmers."
Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification will include training and innovations in sustainable farming methods, increasing environmental sustainability and community resilience. Innovations in Mexico include a silvopastoral system, the introduction of different animal production breeds, and more efficient use of water to improve productivity and address shortages due to ongoing threat of drought.
Dependent on local geography, climate and resources, Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification will introduce innovations on three model farms in areas of water scarcity. These are likely to include land remodeling to prevent soil erosion and allow water capture to improve pasture areas, branch or log dams to contain water, new channels for water conduction, waterers for livestock and wildlife, and rainwater harvesting.
The program will train producers in growing Cuba 22 grass, a low-maintenance, drought resistant grass that is 20% higher in protein and more economically and environmentally sustainable as a local feed resource. Producers from another Heifer Mexico project called Rural Entrepreneurs, supported by the Walmart Foundation, have already begun delivering Cuba 22 grass canes to the FPOs that are part of Accelerating Incomes Through Diversification
To facilitate ongoing progress and ensure food security amid the global pandemic, Heifer Mexico staff visit FPOs directly in their territories, practicing social distancing and prevention protocols. These safety practices will be replicated by the FPOs, helping to prevent outbreaks in their communities.
A second stage of the program in partnership with Cargill will be launched in India before the end of the year. The program will build on the Hatching Hope program, enabling FPOs and smallholder farmers to diversify their incomes through poultry production.
About Heifer Mexico
Heifer International has worked in Mexico since 1977, supporting rural communities by providing training in inclusive, resilient and environmentally smart value chain management. Heifer Mexico works to improve smallholder farmers' livelihoods by connecting them to long-term, sustainable markets. It supports social capital development that empowers women to reach a living income. For information, visit www.heifer-mexico.org
About Philanthropy At Walmart
Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 24 countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, advance equity, address hunger, build inclusive economic opportunity for people in supply chains, protect and restore nature, reduce waste and emissions, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.