PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo and CARE, have launched ‘She Feeds the World’ program in India to strengthen the role of small-scale women producers through sustainable training and economic support.

The program, which will be implemented in the Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts of West Bengal, aims to reach out to more than 48,000 women, men and children and indirectly benefit 1,50,000 individuals.

‘She Feeds the World’ will drive impact for women farmers and their families across the three dimensions of a sustainable food system including economic, social and environmental.

At the economic level, it will build capacity for small-scale farmers to improve their cultivation practices, increase yield, and diversify livelihood options to generate more sustainable income.

Socially, the project will promote more equitable access to knowledge, resources and inclusive markets for vulnerable farmers. From an environmental perspective, the project will tackle soil, water, biodiversity and carbon footprint issues to minimise impact on the natural ecosystem.

According to Roberto Azevedo, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and Chairman, Board of Directors, PepsiCo Foundation, the project is a key pillar of the company’s pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) commitment to spreading regenerative agricultural practices and improving the livelihoods of more than 2,50,000 people in agricultural supply chain and communities by 2030.

“At PepsiCo India, we are focused on bringing farmers into the company’s supply chain, recognising them as farmers, and developing them as entrepreneurs. We have been working and engaging with women farmers in West Bengal, who have been active participants and are breaking gender stereotypes. We are glad to bring ‘She Feeds The World’ to India with CARE, and are confident that such initiatives will further help women farmers build resilient livelihoods,” Ahmed ElSheikh, President, PepsiCo India said at the event on Tuesday.

West Bengal has been working towards building social security for farmers. Such joint efforts by industry and communities will help drive change and is an effective way of creating much-needed awareness around existing resources and opportunities and benefit small-scale women farmers, said Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, West Bengal Agriculture Minister.  

This is not the first time PepsiCo, the makers of Lay’s brand chips, are associating with women farmers. In 2019, PepsiCo and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the ‘Women Farmer Economic Empowerment Program’ to support women in agriculture and help build a more sustainable food system.

Under this initiative, PepsiCo has trained close to 1,500 women farmers in West Bengal on potato agronomy and other skills. It is expected that the program will impact more than 3,00,000 women through direct and community engagement.

The company currently works with close to 27,000 farmers across nine States, including 18,500 farmers in West Bengal. It procures close to six lakh tonnes of potatoes from farmers for manufacturing snacks.

The goal of the $20 million global partnership is to drive inclusivity across the food and beverage industry by demonstrating that actively engaging women as critical drivers of the company’s sourcing strategy leads to better business results. Plans are afoot to replicate the program in Uttar Pradesh.