Livelihoods and Land

Improving smallholder incomes

We believe everyone has the right to a decent quality of life and to be able to provide for themselves and their family.

In many parts of the world, smallholder farmers struggle to make a decent living due to the size of their plots, lack of farm inputs such as fertilisers, limited knowledge of good farming practices and changes in weather patterns.

Without a proper income, people are trapped in poverty, unable to provide essentials for themselves and their family, including health, education, nutrition and proper housing. Better incomes lift people out of poverty, but also have a positive impact on society by encouraging spending and creating economic stimulus.

We are working with partner organisations to support smallholder farmers in our supply chain to improve their income through better farming practices, income diversification, climate change adaptation and access to markets.

In Guatemala, we are partnering with Mercy Corps to enhance the livelihoods of cardamom growers by supporting them to improve their productivity, add value to their current products, and introduce agroforestry crops such as cloves and black pepper, which provide additional income.

We also supported the creation of a producers’ association across 13 communities in Alta Verapaz, which will enable farmers to benefit from economies of scale and increase their bargaining power.

"By helping cardamom producers improve their production, we can help them escape the cycles of poverty and hunger they’ve been trapped in and build a healthier and brighter future for their families"
Jose Aquino,
Rural Development Programme Manager for Mercy Corps in Guatemala

We have supported the roll-out of Farmers Field Schools across our supply chain. These “classrooms without walls” enable tea farmers to learn good agricultural practice  so they can increase production, improve leaf quality and, in turn, earn more money. Farmers are also encouraged to diversify their income for example via beekeeping, animal rearing or other crops, which they can sell or use to feed their family.

What we have acheived

  • Trained more than 6,000 farmers on good agricultural practices
  • Increased the bargaining power of cardamom farmers and producers in Guatemala
  • 500 cardamom-producing families have increased their income by 15% by diversifying cardamom, agroforestry systems and improving productivity and market access.

Zi Yi’s story

Zi Yi Rong and her husband are tea farmers in rural China (Yunnan).

Zi Yi’s income is based on the volume and quality of the tea she picks. But, like many smallholder farmers, she and her husband lacked the right knowledge and had limited access to training, which restricted their income.

"Initially, I was not confident in managing my tea plot as I know little about tea growing. Thanks to the knowledge I got from Farmer Field School, I can monitor tea growing and apply best practice of organic fertilisation, weeding and pest control to ensure quality can meet required standards with satisfactory yields."