An innovative approach by Mars

Improving farmer incomes in food business supply chains is an ambitious challenge that Mars Incorporated is leading through the work of the Farmer Income Lab, launched in 2017. Its goal? Identify the solutions that have been shown to increase farmer income and activate the industry to deploy them at scale. The Lab’s innovative approach relies on bringing together a diversity of partners; private businesses, NGOs and Academics to challenge each other and deliver long-term impact.

An evidence-based approach for concrete results

The Farmer Income Lab’s innovative approach first relies on identifying the solutions that efficiently help increase farmer income and second focuses on how can diverse actors, from the private and the public sector can collaborate to bring these solutions at scale.

The first phase of the Lab’s work therefore relies on addressing the following critical questions: what are the most effective actions, that companies from the food industry, like Mars, can take to enable smallholder farmers in global supply chains, meaningfully increase their incomes?

To answer this, the Lab has already conducted a review as well as a series of in-depth dialogue among stakeholders. In 2018, the Lab published a paper based on literature insights and consultations with a wide range of experts that prioritized 16 initiatives among 48 identified, which had been considered effective and widely adopted.

As a target, the Lab is aiming for living income and will therefore mainly focus on solutions that are aligned with this target.

Find out more about the first findings of the lab “What Works to Increase Smallholder Farmer Income?” published in 2018 as well as What works: Insights and Conventionsthat summarizes the insights from the Lab’s stakeholder discussions and analysis.

Collaboration to overcome a collective challenge

Because the challenge is too big for any one organisation to solve alone, the Farmer Income Lab has put collaboration at the heart of its approach.

It has therefore convened an Advisory Council that is gathering NGOs, private actors and academics to provide guidance, technical advice and strategic governance. As members of this Advisory Council, Oxfam, AB InBev, Danone and Nestlé, Cornell University, IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming and UNDP are bringing together their expertise, collaboration and willingness to structure a new model of resilient supply chains for the benefit of farmers and the food business.