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From 18 chickens to 1,000 tons of grain: Stories of hope on World Food Day

October 16, 2020

When the pandemic shut down India for more than two months this year, millions of people lost their livelihoods. The agriculture sector — already vulnerable — was hit hard, with many smallholder farmers being pushed into extreme poverty.

Maltilata Naik and her family could easily have been among them. They work a small plot of land in the village of Asankandur, growing just enough rice and vegetables to sustain themselves and sell a few at the market.

Most of their income usually comes from her husband. When the country locked down, he was out of work. They couldn’t even access their savings in the bank because of travel restrictions. Like many households, they were at risk of going hungry.

Instead, Maltilata sold chickens.

She’s been raising them for about a decade, keeping a small flock of birds as a traditional practice. But she never took it seriously as a source of income or nutrition until she got involved with Hatching Hope.

The ambitious partnership between Heifer International and Cargill aims to improve nutrition and livelihoods worldwide through poultry.

With training and better practices, she was able to quadruple the size of her flock to about 90 birds. She sold 18 of them during the lockdown, using the business practices she learned from Hatching Hope to get better prices and make nearly half of her husband’s typical yearly income in three months. A few others provided meat and eggs for the family.

“We did not have hope earlier,” she says. “We did not know how we will do this. But now, we have hope.”

It’s just one way Cargill’s programs and partnerships worldwide help improve lives and strengthen communities in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, says Michelle Grogg, head of Corporate Responsibility. “The work is an essential part of our purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Given the continued impacts of COVID-19 around the world,  that’s more important than ever.

As we celebrate World Food Day, here’s a look at a few other places where we’re bringing our values to life and ensure that agriculture provide a safe, sustainable and affordable food system.

1,000 tons of feed in Mexico

In Mexico, our businesses are partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on a collaboration called Mil toneladas — 1,000 tons.

That’s 1,000 tons of livestock feed we’re donating to academics, research centers and producers who are in a vulnerable situation because of the pandemic.

Recipients include 5,400 vulnerable producers, 615 poultry farms who are part of Hatching Hope, two universities, and the National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Livestock Research.

Cargill’s Animal Nutrition, Agriculture Supply Chain, Trade and Capital Markets and Aquaculture businesses teamed up to make the project a reality, with a focus on driving long-term, structural improvements.

“We know that financial and food donations provide short-term relief,” said Raphael Oliveira, managing director of Cargill Animal Nutrition in Mexico. “We strive to share our knowledge on animal health and productivity to create sustainable changes, solutions and transformations.”

Agriculture for Lunch in Thailand image

Agriculture for Lunch in Thailand

In Thailand, our businesses have long been champions of school lunch programs, helping improve nutrition in the communities surrounding our facilities.

Since 2014, we’ve been providing our poultry and egg products for lunch to 14 schools, totaling about 420,000 meals annually. Last year, we launched a new partnership with Suranaree University — the “Agriculture for Lunch Program” — to provide nutrition awareness activities and agriculture for students at 26 local schools in need, from hydroponic farming to raising fish and poultry.

As COVID-19 arrived, our businesses stepped up, delivering more than half a million eggs, along with chicken and rice, to hospitals and health workers. We also established a food bank program that served about 35,000 people who were self-quarantining.

Norturing prosperity in Venezuela image

Nurturing Prosperity in Venezuela

Many people in Venezuela were already at risk before the pandemic, with inflation and raw materials shortages wreaking havoc on the economy.

Cargill, together with  Dividendo Voluntario para la Comunidad, an ally of United Way in Venezuela, runs the Nurturing Prosperity program to get young children access to much-needed quality nutrition through school meals and protein drinks. To date, it’s served nearly 220,000 meals and 92,000 drinks to 2,000 children, parents and people from schools across the country.

Access to those meals has helped boost enrollment in the schools involved by 28% since 2019.

When COVID-19 closed schools, we stepped up to deliver the food directly to homes.

Beyond meeting an immediate need, it’s an investment in the future.

“If we have a good base, we will have a better group of professionals,” says Jorge Leguisamo, a father of some of the students we serve. “This is for the children who are our next generation.”