Last month, I attended the International Feed Industry Federation’s (IFIF) 2019 Global Feed & Food Congress (GFFC). The theme of the three-day event centered around the question, “Is the global feed and food sector ready for the future of animal production?” Naturally, the underlying message tied back to the challenges of feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050, but also focused on the staggering needs of emerging markets — a challenge on the mind of nearly every ag stakeholder.
While onsite I sat down with Chuck Warta, president of Cargill’s premix business, and Marleen New, Heifer International’s vice president of global partnerships, who, coincidentally, are involved in a massive undertaking tackling this issue through the Hatching Hope Global Initiative, a long-term, international initiative to improve the nutrition and economic livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030.
The effort, led by Cargill Animal Nutrition (CAN) and Heifer International, a global nonprofit combating hunger and poverty, will achieve its goal through the production, promotion and consumption of poultry, targeting female smallholder farmers in markets identified as having the “best overlaps” for CAN and Heifer.
The initiative has already launched in India, involving 300,000 farmers and impact 1 million people indirectly; it will roll out in Mexico and Kenya in the coming months.
Hatching Hope will provide the expertise and materials for sustainable eggs and chicken meat production — as well as the market to support it. The effort encompasses everything from broad education programs, best production and feeding practices and other related services.
The program will especially benefit and empower female farmers.
“Chickens are considered women’s work, and the initiative provides the opportunity for women to make their own income,” explains New. “In addition to feeding their families, the data shows women reinvest — again, promoting sustainability.”
Local markets will determine the need and dictate whether the poultry will be used for meat or eggs.
Pathways to success
Heifer International identified three key pathways to ensure the success of the project:
- Community based: Supporting small farmers, providing inputs and training and getting them connected with the market.
- Create demand: Taking a mass market approach in these communities and the surrounding communities to make them aware that poultry is available and is a great source of protein for them and their children.
- Establish market connections: The sustainability of the project is paramount. In this model, when Heifer leaves, Cargill and other stakeholders will remain to continue working with the farmers because “it’s their business.”
Success will be measured and evaluated under each of the three pathways using different, but specific, metrics. Activities within the program will be evaluated every six months; impact will be measured annually.
Sustainability is built into the social capital (Heifer’s secret sauce) or the network that created within the community. Heifer refers to the donation of materials as a “living loan”: the farmer’s “down payment” is their commitment and sweat equity, but the farmer is expected to pay it forward to the community.
“You see it changing a fatalistic mindset,” New says. “The idea they and their children can have a better life — lifting each other up.”
The original “receiver,” who is selected based on certain criteria, is required to “pass on the gift” to least one person, but on average three to six individuals are brought in — which helps it scale.
The hope is that a grassroots effort will flourish from the digital platform, HatchingHopeGlobal.com which provides practical resource to farmers.
“Aside from the large scale, we will develop templates where a small group of Cargill employees can implement it in communities in need around the world with very little support from the larger Heifer/Cargill organization,” Warta says.
What’s in it for Cargill?
New customers in emerging and critical markets, of course.
“Yeah, if we do this well, we expect there will be customers at the end of it,” Warta says. “If we do this right, there should be successful small shareholder farmers who will grow into viable small customers for us and our dealer network — and we should be proud of that! We don’t go into it with that intent, but it shows how the initiative aligns with our business.”
As these players become more sophisticated and successful in global poultry value chain, there is a business opportunity for Cargill down the road to sell low cost feed.
“Creating new customers is the ultimate measure of success and if you’ve created something sustainable,” Warta says.
Editor’s note: The GFFC’s 6th edition is organized by the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) hosted 300 delegates from 50 countries. It was held in Bangkok, Thailand, March 11-13, 2019.