Purpose: We serve small-scale farmers. In everything we do, we place the farmer first. We measure success in our ability to make more farmers more prosperous.
- Humble Service: We meet farmers in their fields and we get our shoes muddy. Farmers are our customers and we serve them with humility.
- Hard Work: We work hard every day. We execute with world-class professionalism and business excellence. Farmers deserve nothing less.
- Continual Growth: We improve every season. We work with determination to meet our goals and then stretch ourselves by raising the bar even higher.
- Family of Leaders: We bring together the best leaders and build long-term careers. We care for team members like family.
- Dreaming Big: We envision serving millions of farm families. We build for scale with every idea and solution.
- Integrity: We do what we say, and our words match our values.
LONG TERM IMPACT
Today’s great challenges of food security and poverty are urgent, but they cannot be solved in the space of a year. They require enduring approaches that address both short-term results and long-term impacts.
Longer-term thinking is especially vital to the world’s farmers. Their success— today and in the future— depends on maintaining a healthy environment, with soil rich in organic matter, microorganisms, and nutrients. In the face of a changing climate, it is also more important than ever that farmers maximize their resilience to weather-related challenges.
About one year ago, One Acre Fund began a deeper exploration into the concept of “Long Term Impact.” Although we are only at the beginning of this exploration, we are thinking about it holistically: Our challenge is not only to help smallholder farmers meet their needs today, but to do so in a way that ensures long-term results for them, their children, and all future generations of farmers.
One Acre Fund is uniquely positioned to tackle this challenge and to deliver long-term results. The foundation of our operating model is a multi-year relationship with the farmers that we serve. Our program already incorporates many sustainable agriculture practices, and we are now increasing our focus on providing lasting results for the farmer. But we are still far from where we want to be.
We expect to make substantive progress on Long Term Impact in the coming years, but for now, we’d like to share more detail about some of our ongoing work to ensure long-term results for farmers, and about our commitment to understanding and transparently reporting the positive and negative environmental impacts of One Acre Fund.
LONG TERM IMPACT IN OUR WORK TODAY
One Acre Fund implements the ideas of Long Term Impact by conducting an ambitious slate of trials on farm products that maximize both short-term results and long-term sustainability. When products work, we roll them out across our network of hundreds of thousands of farmers. Below are some examples.
Trees. Trees have the potential to generate large amounts of income for farmers when sold as building poles, crop trellises, or firewood. They also store carbon, reduce erosion, and can slow or reverse deforestation. However, in much of East Africa, production of tree saplings is often limited to community or professional nurseries, which many smallholder farmers can’t access. We’ve helped make tree germination accessible to all of our clients by providing inputs and training. In 2014 alone, One Acre Fund farmers planted 4 million trees.
Compost and Soil Organic Matter. For most of our clients, a minimal amount of conventional fertilizer is essential to grow enough food for their families, and to ensure replenishment of depleted soils. But conventional fertilizer alone is a poor long-term strategy for soil health, which is why the first training that we offer to prospective One Acre Fund farmers is on Integrated Soil Fertility Management and compost creation. We’ve seen modest increases in the use of compost in fields, and have made improving soil organic matter a high priority in order to boost farmer resilience in the face of a changing climate.
Crop Rotation & Diversity. Many farmers in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, prefer to plant the same crop in the same field, for many seasons consecutively. Although this may be optimal in a single season, this practice eventually leads to increased disease and pest pressure. One Acre Fund has made major efforts to promote alternative crops and a maize-bean rotation that has the additional benefit of adding nitrogen to the soil. These efforts have been moderately successful: The majority of farmers are diversifying their crops, but we feel there is still work to be done here.
Solar Lamps. Farmers typically illuminate their houses with small kerosene lamps. Compared with kerosene lamps, solar lamps produce more light, are more cost-effective, and increase child study hours, while significantly reducing carbon emissions. We have sold a cumulative 156,000 lamps to farmers, and we continue to conduct trials every year to test newer and more efficient lamps.
Innovation. One Acre Fund annually conducts dozens of trials on promising products and techniques. After a trial is successful at our research stations, we engage hundreds of farmers to trial the service in their own fields. We’re particularly excited about nitrogen-fixing forage crops, perennial crops, and improved and alternative fertilizers (organic and conventional). We’re also investing in large-scale soil analyses to monitor and improve soil fertility with our members. For a more complete list of trials, please visit our Insights Library.
This is just the beginning. There are many more beneficial products and practices that we want to deliver to farmers in the coming years. As a complement to our work on urgent problems that require short-term results, we are committing to monitor and to improve the long-term effects of our practices on soil quality and broader ecology, to measure our own environmental impact as an organization, and to begin transparently publishing more results.