From the ground up
Employees in Argentina dig in on community activities inspired by Cargill’s farmer customers
By Amanda Halbersma May 03, 2016
The Chocleada, or “corn event” program, which started in Argentina in 2006, brings together important goals and stakeholders for Cargill – connecting farmers, grain harvests, community involvement and food security.
Farmers, including some who produce corn and maize for Cargill’s grain and oilseeds supply chain business in Argentina, are at the root of the program. They donate a hectare of their crops to be harvested by community volunteers.
The volunteers who harvest the farmers’ donated crops are mostly students from surrounding communities, who benefit from the hands-on lessons in social responsibility.
The harvested corn is then donated to food banks, which are on the front lines of the fight against hunger. Even if the harvested crop is inedible, the food banks benefit. For instance, maize harvests are sold, with proceeds invested in food that goes to food banks, improving the diet needs of its beneficiaries. Food banks are among the many institutions in Argentina that help nourish the nation’s poor. According to the Catholic University of Argentina, about 27 percent of the population lives in poverty.
Some of Cargill’s farmer customers were among the programs’ earliest supporters. Their participation inspired Cargill employees to get involved. Cargill has now been participating in Chocleada programs since 2007 by supplying volunteers, helping arrange event logistics, securing donations, and garnering media attention. The program has become one of the most popular employee/community engagement activities for Cargill in Argentina. More than 100 employees participated in 22 Chocleada events in 2015, harvesting more than 200,000 kilos of corn and maize.
“The involvement and participation of employees of Cargill in the Chocleada is important and productive,” said Nicolás Boero, executive director of MovilizaRSE, the organization that developed the Chocleada program. “They bring their knowledge, expertise and resources, and are an inspiring source for new Chocleada participants.”
Julian Ferrer, corporate responsibility leader for Cargill in Buenos Aires, has been involved in the Chocleada since early on, even participating in a harvest in Cordoba City in April.
“These programs make a lot of sense for Cargill,” said Ferrer. “We see very positive reactions from the food banks, from the employees who participate, and the communities we serve. It is making Cargill more visible in a positive way, including with farmers.”
Cargill’s good reputation has been growing along with the program itself. MovilizaRSE was initially supporting four or five Chocleada events per year; now they can organize about 30.
Ferrer expects support for the programs to grow within the company as more employees are hearing about it and providing enthusiastic support. This is great news for the executive director of MovilizaRSE.
“All of the great results and social impacts we’re made during all of these years would have been very difficult to achieve without the participation and support of organizations like Cargill,” said Boero.
Cargill may extend its support to help MovilizaRSE organize more events in Uruguay, where Cargill employees also can get involved.