It’s an initiative, perhaps even a movement, built around a common belief in the value of safe and affordable animal protein in the diet and a commitment to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Cargill and Heifer International have joined forces to create The Hatching Hope Global Initiative. The bold initiative aims to improve the nutrition and economic livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030 through the production, promotion and consumption of poultry.
“We believe that the key to ending hunger and poverty is for farmers to be able to earn a living income,” Heifer International president and chief executive officer Pierre Ferrari said. “Through Hatching Hope, we’re investing in smart, resourceful women farmers, working with them to improve their products and access new markets. We’re excited to launch Hatching Hope as it can be quickly scaled up, supporting more farmers around the world.”
Hatching Hope will drive awareness of the nutritional benefits of poultry and eggs and stoke demand through local and national educational campaigns. Farmers will be connected to markets and equipped with the goods and services they need to be successful participants in the poultry value chain.
“Millions of people worldwide go hungry every day and lack access to nutrients they need to grow and thrive,” said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill’s premix and nutrition business. “While donations of food and money provide short-term relief, we can create sustainable change by teaching and sharing what we know and helping transform subsistence farmers into productive, successful entrepreneurs who have the economic means to feed their children, send them to school and lift their families and communities out of poverty. We believe the 800 million smallholder farmers around the world need to be part of the solution to help us feed 10 billion people by 2050.”
Heifer International has long-term presence, development expertise and strong relationships in rural communities that build social capital. Cargill has best-in-class expertise in animal health and productivity with deep knowledge in the poultry industry and global market. Both have a strong global footprint and on-the-ground presence in developing countries and the ability to mobilize staff to address specific issues facing the poultry value chain in the countries where Hatching Hope will operate.
“We think poultry offers a unique set of advantages that set farmers up for success,” Warta said. “Meat and eggs present an opportunity to involve all members of the household -- from women to children to the elderly. The poultry growing cycle is also fast paced, so it can deliver meat and eggs quickly and provide a valuable nutritional source, particularly for children.
Cargill and Heifer International partnered on an initiative in China two years ago to equip 450 women-led poultry farms with chicks, training and access to nutritional expertise and other services. The success of that project became the inspiration for Hatching Hope.
Initially, Hatching Hope will work directly with women smallholder farmers in India, Mexico and Kenya -- countries where both Cargill and Heifer International already have a strong presence. These also are countries that are quite different on a number of levels and that will provide for the opportunity to learn and further refine the Hatching Hope initiative prior to expanding its reach globally.
The journey to 100 million people is going to require learning from each experience, Warta said. He noted that the program helps farmers not only feed their families but also become part of the solution to bridging the global food and nutrition security gap while boosting local economies and providing nutrition education.
“The magic of the Heifer model is that every person that takes part in the project commits to pass on knowledge and expertise -- and maybe even chickens -- to another family,” Ferrari added. “Farmers see not only that change is possible but that it’s worth their time. Together, we build strong networks between farmers and link communities into markets, and this is how the reach and impact of Hatching Hope will continue to grow.”
Warta noted that it is important to recognize the impact hunger can have on a child’s development, from a cognitive, social and emotional standpoint.
“Hunger leaves children defenseless to disease and to their environment. We know for a fact an egg a day sold can be enough to fund a child through school, and we know that if you nourish that child with the nourishment they can get from an egg, it unlocks them to achieve their full potential. One of the things we get super excited about is the potential brain power in the children that are going to be touched by this 100 million goal and the impact they can have in society,” he said.
Cargill brings 23,000 employees in more than 40 countries and customers in more than 100 countries to the Hatching Hope initiative. “We bring 23,000 volunteers who are passionate about this industry, passionate about giving back and who want to have an impact,” Warta said. In addition, he said, Cargill will provide resources and the technical support needed to help the small agricultural producers involved in Hatching Hope.
Poultry is the starting point for the initiative, but it certainly is not the only protein Hatching Hope will feature. “We are starting with poultry, but we don’t have any limitations long term. It is just that the growing cycle is shorter and the time from placement to impact we can have with these small shareholders producers is much shorter with poultry. The other piece is the duality of the poultry – both the egg and meat production component,” Warta said.
Poultry also is a gender equalizer. When poultry is place into these families, it is the female member of the household who steps up and takes on the added responsibility, the added leadership, within the family and community. It becomes a huge female farmer empowerment issue, Warta said.
Ferrari added that the women on these farms not only are taking care of the chickens, but they also are marketing the birds and eggs. That means they are collecting the money, and they keep that cash, which is not normally how the family functions. That interruption, with the women having the cash is hand, means they can spend it on the right things for the family, such education of their daughters and the community.
Warta said Cargill has made an upfront investment of $8 million of the first four years of the initiative, not including all of the in-kind technical support of the Cargill team. “We haven’t put a limit on what the overall investment should be, but we have put a target on what the impact should be, and that is the 100 million people,” Warta said.
Ferrari noted that a project with the scale of Hatching Hope, drawing support and commitment from a strong partner, has a way of opening up resources from local governments and communities. He estimated that Cargill’s initial investment could be easily multiplied by three, four or even five times by local resources.
The goal is to build something big, and Cargill is committed in every way and for the long term, Warta said.
Cargill and Heifer International are inviting others – individuals as well as companies and organizations -- to join the Hatching Hope initiative through the commitment of funding and/or technical support.
For more information on the Hatching Hope Global Initiative, visit www.hatchinghopeglobal.com.