USA American confectionery giant, Mars Incorporated has formalized its partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in joint efforts to improve economic opportunity and resilience in agricultural supply chains.

The partnership marks a new stage of progress in their combined work tackling global sustainability challenges and addressing value chains, social and environmental issues around the world.

Through this new partnership, Mars and USAID will draw on technical expertise, reach and resources to specifically address improving farmer incomes, building sustainable and nutritious food systems, and unlocking economic opportunities for women.

As part of its US$1 billion Sustainable in a Generation Plan, Mars said that the collaboration with USAID will enable the company to make the kind of impact that can only be achieved a public-private partnership.

Frank Mars, Vice President for Sustainable Solutions at Mars said: “The signing of this MOU cements our partnership with USAID, which builds on a successful, long-established alliance to address poverty and empower communities in developing regions. 

“The importance of our partnership with USAID is demonstrated by its recent announcement of a US$2 million grant to support a Mars sustainability shea project in Ghana, funded through the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.

“This project alone will reach 13,000 female shea farmers and help them to become better entrepreneurs by diversifying agricultural production, strengthening market links, shifting income opportunities and improving financial literacy.

“Through our continued collaboration, we will also extend the reach and impact of projects like the Farmer Income Lab.

“As a founder of the lab, Mars is dedicated to improving the incomes and working lives of smallholder farmers – and ensuring that the communities we work with have the opportunity to thrive.”

In addition, to collaborating and supporting Mars’ shea project in Ghana, Mars and USAID, have also begun to deliver on the agreement’s objectives through other ongoing collaborations.

These include support for the Mars-led Farmer Income Lab, the collaborative ‘think-do tank’ focused on improving farmer incomes and lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty.

USAID has provided a catalytic US$500,000 grant to support the work of the Farmer Income Lab. Other private sector partners of the Lab are also exploring how to scale their collaboration to accelerate action in global supply chains that drive meaningful change to farmer incomes.

In Thailand, Mars and USAID are implementing the Support of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Initiative (CTIP), which uses technology to offer fishermen at sea connectivity to land.

Work is also taking place to build partnerships with the Thai government and establish industry protocols on ethical recruitment practices.

According to the company, this work is a part of a US$14 million grant through Asia-wide and Thailand CTIP programs focused on action from civil society, business and government to advance respect for human rights. 

Mars and USAID are also promoting food safety in Nepal by helping to develop national capacity to manage safe post-harvest supply chains.