Coca-Cola trying to do good?

While this blog began as a look at how five big businesses are attempting to improve the livelihoods and food security of small-scale farmers in developing countries (see previous blog post), it quickly became more than a single blog’s worth of information, in particular, on just Coca-Cola alone. Hence this second instalment looking at the multiple initiatives Coca-Cola, with a number of partners, are running across a variety of themes. As with the last blog we’ll leave it up to you as to whether you think these initiatives add up to a sum total of “doing good”.

coceAt the US-Africa Leaders summit Coca-Cola announced a new investment into its African bottling partners of $5 billion over six years, bringing their total investment, between 2010 and 2020, to $17 billion. This money will be invested in Africa, where they have been working since 1928, in new manufacturing lines and equipment, creating more jobs, as well as several of Coca-Cola’s sustainability initiatives based around sustainable sourcing, safe water access and women’s empowerment. Some of these initiatives include:

Project Nurture – an $11.5 million partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and TechnoServe launched in 2010 supporting 50,000 small-scale mango and passion fruit farmers in in Kenya and Uganda to sustainably grow their crops and double their fruit incomes. As of June 2013, more than 50,000 farmers who were successfully organized into 1,100 producer business groups have been recruited, more than 70 community extension service providers and 48,500 farmers have been trained in agronomic practices, and two processors have been approved as suppliers in the Coca-Cola’s supply chain.

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4 big businesses trying to do good?

Much has been in the news recently, whether in support or sceptical, regarding initiatives of large corporations that aim in some way to address food security and the sustainability of food systems. Judgements around whether these programmes are genuine in their aims, positive for small-scale developing food producers and effective at tackling food security are mixed. Here we discuss some of these initiatives.

  1. Cargill

Over the last five years, Cargill claim to have contributed over $83 million to reduce hunger and improve nutrition around the world through their global partnerships and about half of Cargill’s global workforce is in the developing world. They have several programmes of work, for example:

  • In partnership with CARE and the World Food Programme, Cargill is working to improve food security and living standards in parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa. Since 2008 their work has reached over 100,000 people in rural areas and in 2013 they announced a three-year $7.5-million partnership building on the success of the Rural Development Initiative and a five-year $10-million plan to support people in India, Ghana, Cote d’IVoire, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil. In particular their work tries to improve productivity, incomes, food security and education.
  • Since 2004, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Cargill have been promoting techniques to increase productivity with less impact on land, water and biodiversity in Africa, Argentina, Brazil, China and North America, for example helping farmers grow soy more sustainably and protect the Brazilian rainforest.
  • In Mozambique, Cargill is working with AgDevCo to raise incomes for thousands of smallholder farmers through a long-term maize supply agreement with the Empresa de Comercialização Agrícola Ltd. programme. Also in Mozambique, Cargill has committed $1.35 million to a three-year partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation to support Bilibiza, a vocational school providing agricultural training for 400 students each year.
  • Cargill has helped to train more than 115,000 cocoa farmers around the world in improved agricultural practices, helping to increase the sustainability of cocoa supply chains, improve livelihoods and increase food security in cocoa farming communities in Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • With the World Wildlife Fund, Songyuan municipal government and smallholder farmers in northeastern China Cargill are working to improve maize production, decrease waste, conserve water and reduce fertilizer use. On demonstration plots average yields have been increased by 20% while in 2013, for the more than 15,000 farmers participating, yields were 39% higher than demonstration plots and fertilizer efficiency improved 34%.

[Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

How economic growth has become anti-life, The Guardian

Group claims GMOs failed to deliver promised benefits, Inquirer News

Orange Sweet Potato One of the Most Innovative Ways to Feed the Planet, Says USAID Administrator, HarvestPlus

A YOUng FARMer’s vision, PAEPARD

UK agricultural research aid should do more for poor farmers, says watchdog, The Guardian

Yields of new varieties of agricultural crops continue to increase, Wageningen University

The Idealist: a brilliant, gripping, disturbing portrait of Jeffrey Sachs, From Power to Poverty, Duncan Green

Three Billion Poor People Are Waiting for Business to Reinvent Itself, The Business Solution to Poverty

Science has bigger say in GM food, China Daily

How African innovation can take on the world, PC Tech Magazine

Have a Coke and a … GMO?, Politico

Landscapes debate could reinvigorate UN climate talks in Warsaw – negotiator, CIFOR, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Traditional innovation in farming is under threat, IIED

End Of The Egg? ‘Fake Egg’ Company Aims To Replace 79 Billion Chicken Eggs Laid Each Year, Civil Eats

How to end world hunger, CNN


What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Can family farming make poverty history?, CNN

Calling All Global Citizens: Small Actions to Create Big Impact Against Global Poverty, Huffington Post

Solving malnutrition through business and science?, Progressive Development Forum

Realizing Africa’s Rice Promise, Wopereis, et al.

The genetically modified food debate: Where do we begin?, Grist

Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies, Science

Africa: The Fuss Over Intensified Farming, All Africa

Agricultural researchers must back local climate innovation, Thomson Reuters Foundation

As Biotech Seed Falters, Insecticide Use Surges In Corn Belt, The Salt

Biofuels: have we lost the plot?, The Guardian

China and Nigeria sign $1.1bn deal, BBC

Food Insecurity Threatens 1.2 Million in Uganda’s Northeast, All Africa

Africa-wide “Great Green Wall” to Halt Sahara’s Spread?, National Geographic

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

New Report Urges a U.S. Global Food Security Focus on Science, Trade and Business, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Pesticides Make a Comeback, The Wall Street Journal

The biodiversity challenge in Europe, Thinking Country

Q+A: Committee on World Food Security chair urges use of forest foods in diets, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ghana hosts 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week, Joy Online

Trees on farms: challenging conventional agricultural practice, The Guardian

Disasters displaced over 32 mln people in 2012, rising trend forecast, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Feature: Curbing hunger, Ghana must go biotech, Ghana Business News

G8 under pressure to rethink biofuel mandates,