Our World

Farmers in Kenya at a community meeting about Western Seed

World Food Day

Editor’s note: World Food Day, a global movement to end hunger, took place on October 16.

As we commemorate World Food Day 2012 it is crucial to explore the issues surrounding food security in a local and global context.  In much of the world populations are expanding dramatically with demand for food increasing in-step. Food security is composed of three facets; availability, access and use, and in many of the countries where we invest we see challenges across all three.

At Acumen Fund we believe that a critical way to improve food security is by improving smallholder farmers’ access to stronger agricultural inputs, tools and financing. In a sector where innovation abounds, millions of smallholder farmers are still struggling to produce decent crop yields, resulting in poor nutrition, bad health and stagnant growth. For the last decade Acumen has been addressing this issue through a series of innovative investments in agriculture in Africa and South Asia.

With our investment in GADCO in Ghana, Acumen Fund is targeting all three causes of food insecurity at a national level through a combination of improved yields, services and access to consumer markets in the rice market. Right now rice productivity in Ghana is 40% less than the global average. GADCO is creating a program that provides smallholder farmers with higher-yield seeds and then provides direct access for the production to some of the largest national consumer markets.  GADCO has the potential to triple incomes for all farmers involved and impact more than 35,000 lives nationally.

Farmers in Kenya at a community meeting about Western Seed

Western Seed, based in Kenya, focuses on addressing the weak productivity of maize farmers in much of the country.  The company uses well-established hybrid seed varieties that allow farmers to double their yields, significantly improving their incomes and quality of life. Since Acumen’s investment three years ago, Western Seed has distributed to over 300,000 farmers across Kenya.

In Pakistan, on average, it takes five cows to produce the equivalent milk of one American cow. This is because most farmers in Pakistan cannot afford the high-quality bull semen that can improve productivity within local livestock breeds. Founded in 2005 in Narowal, Pakistan, Jassar Farms has established a process of bringing high-quality bull semen to poor farmers at very affordable prices. It is the only private sector farm in Pakistan that has acquired the technology to transfer embryos, and has the potential to increase milk supplies for more than 250,000 farmers in the region.

The world has advanced to a point where no one should be going hungry, but improved food security will require innovation in agricultural production, as well as innovation across the supply chain that can improve livelihoods and local markets through improved processing and distribution. As we focus on World Food Day we celebrate the entrepreneurs on the front lines of bringing innovations to the world that can help households, communities and nations achieve greater food security.

___

Yasmina Zaidman is Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships at Acumen Fund. Read her personal blog and follow her on Twitter @Yasminajz

Comments

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka and Canada.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]

Welcoming Ajit Mahadevan as Acumen India Country Director

We are pleased to announce that Ajit Mahadevan will be joining Acumen as India Country Director. Ajit joins Acumen from Ernst & Young, where he has served as Advisory Partner & Leader (Life Sciences) for the past six years.  At EY, he was a strategic advisor to the leadership of some of the leading Indian and global life science and healthcare players with the focus being business transformation and growth.  Prior to his time at E&Y, Ajit was President of Piramal Healthcare, one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in India, where he built the international business from inception in 2002 to $300M by the end of 2008. Ajit held multiple leadership roles across strategy, M&A and business leadership. During his tenure at Accenture’s Strategic Services practice in UK and India, he led the development of one of the firm’s largest and most successful internal projects – the Offshore Development Centre in 2001, which has now grown to about 100,000 people across multiple cities in India. Ajit has worked in an advisory capacity to Acumen in the past, most recently participating in Regional Fellows selection panels in Mumbai. [Read More]