By Sarah Goellner
DES MOINES — One Acre Fund has worked with farmers since 2006 to help improve crop yields. Now, they are beginning to look past the harvest to nutrition and health outcomes for the small-holder farmers and their families. Four years ago Jenya Shandina, business development manager of One Acre Fund, joined in their journey to alleviate extreme hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
One Acre Fund currently works with farmers in Africa by providing credit “bundles” each growing season, along with training support on how to get the most out of their supplies. Each bundle includes financing for inputs, seeds, fertilizer distribution information and facilities to market the harvest for maximum profit.
The organization is monitoring both outcomes of the growing season and the impact of the bundles on a consistent basis.
“Impact is our North star,” Shandina said.
One Acre Fund began 10 years ago helping 40 farmers in just one country. By the end of 2016, they project assisting 420,000 farmers in six countries: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Tanzania.
“There has been phenomenal growth,” she said.
One Acre Fund is constantly changing and evolving, and is currently working on pilot programs in Myanmar to expand the profile of their small-holder farm assistance program. They are also working on potentially launching a trial in India.
When looking at getting One Acre into a new country or region, they first research whether or not services are actually needed. They must then decide if it is the best place to invest time and resources in order to get a good outcome for both the farmers and organization.
While the country and needs may change, the program model stays fundamentally the same. One Acre Fund’s underlying theme is to always put the farmer first. The program model has also recently added a soil fertility element. This will allow farmers to see the long-term impact of the crops on their soil based on the Fund’s research, trials and results.
One Acre has an impressive goal of helping 1.2 million farmers by 2020.