UN Agency IFAD and Mars Incorporated Commit to Working Together to Improve the Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers in Developing Countries

Sep 18, 2017 3:00 PM ET

NEW YORK, September 18, 2017 /3BL Media/ - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Mars Incorporated signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to work to increase incomes and economic opportunities for thousands of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

IFAD President, Gilbert F. Houngbo, and Frank Mars, Board Member of Mars Incorporated, signed the MOU on the side lines of this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York. The agreement outlines how IFAD and Mars will work together to provide farmers in Mars’ extended supply chain with greater access to the tools, technology and training that will help them improve their livelihoods.

Three quarters of the world's poorest people and most undernourished people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. Yet millions of rural people lack the resources, training and infrastructure to change their lives.

“Agriculture can generate great prosperity for smallholder farmers and it can lift millions out of poverty, create new jobs and business opportunities for rural people, especially youth,” Houngbo said. “We look forward to working with Mars to further develop the potential of smallholder farming, by improving the sustainability of their production and opening doors to new markets.”

The signing of the MOU follows the launch of Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation plan, in which it will invest $1 billion over the next few years to tackle urgent threats including climate change, poverty in the supply chain and scarcity of resources. As part of the plan, Mars has announced an ambition to meaningfully improve the working lives of one million people in its value chain to enable them to thrive.

“As a business with agriculture at our core, we have a responsibility to look after the farmers in our value chain. If we’re to have secure and sustainable access to the raw materials we all rely on, from mint to cocoa and rice, today’s farmers, and next generation farmers who cultivate these crops must be successful too,” Mars said. “Our impact is greater when we collaborate with others so we are pleased to be announcing our partnership with IFAD to continue building on the positive work we have already begun.”

As part of the new agreement, IFAD and Mars will work together to provide farmers with training and technical guidance that will increase productivity and quality standards, and support more environmentally sustainable farming methods.

In addition, the two will explore opportunities to support smallholders in Mars’ value chains by brokering greater access to markets that will in turn help farmers increase their incomes. The focus on increasing incomes is also a key part of Mars’ newly launched Farmer Income Lab, a collaborative “think-do tank,” focusing on generating the missing insights needed to eradicate smallholder poverty.

On an international and regional level, IFAD and Mars will also advocate for smallholder agricultural development and sound environmental management to contribute to thriving communities.

Today’s announcement marks the deepening of the existing relationship between IFAD and Mars, who have collaborated in the past to support smallholder farmers. In 2012, Mars partnered with the Indonesian government and IFAD to open Cocoa Development Centres which provide cocoa farmers with training in new techniques to care for their trees, maintain their farms and produce more and better cocoa. For many farmers, their cocoa yields doubled as a result.

With the agreement now underway, the two partners are looking for opportunities to collaborate in other countries, including Cambodia, India, Cote d’Ivoire among others.

Collaborations already underway include:

  • Increasing incomes for small farmers in the Philippines through improved farm productivity and intercropping. Mars is currently exploring on-the-ground partnership with IFAD to support and connect processors and smallholder farmers in coconut and cocoa.
  • Increasing business for smallholder rice growers in India. IFAD and Mars are exploring opportunities to synchronize investments to support female smallholder rice growers through financial literacy training and market access.
  • Expanding partnership to improve access to markets, training and technology for cocoa farmers in Indonesia. Mars will host training activities for over 1,000 farmers at its Cocoa Academy facility. Overall, 382,500 individuals are expected to directly benefit from this project.

About IFAD:

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 464 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

For more information about IFAD, please visit www.ifad.org.  Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube

About Mars, Incorporated

Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love. With almost $35 billion in sales, the company is a global business that produces some of the world’s best-loved brands: M&M’s®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, DOVE®, PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES®, UNCLE BEN’S®, MARS DRINKS and COCOAVIA®. Mars also provides veterinary health services that include BANFIELD® Pet Hospitals. Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in more than 80 countries. The Mars Five Principles – Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom – inspire its more than 85,000 Associates to create value for all its partners and deliver growth they are proud of every day.

For more information about Mars, please visit www.mars.com. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.


Katie Taft

Senior Management Communications


Work: +39 0654592396

Mobile: +39 334 6083657


Denise Meredith Young

Senior Director, Global External Communications


Mobile: +1-773-719-5740