Growing a better life through artichokes
Last year on the blog, we shared the story of small-scale artichoke farmers in Peru who are helping us source premium artichokes for Green Giant customers.
Given the many challenges these farmers face with yields and profitability, General Mills and our foundation made a four-year joint commitment with supplier partner AgroMantaro to provide $1.1 million to help Peruvian farmers, more than half female smallholder farmers, as part of our long-term sustainable sourcing program.
As a progress update on this work, we wanted to share the story of Bethy Muñoz, an artichoke farmer in Junin, a Peruvian village populated by many widows whose husbands were killed during the civil unrest that plagued the country in the 1980s.
There are exciting years ahead for Muñoz as she expects to introduce her oldest son as a college graduate – the first in the family – and she’s quick to point to artichokes as the source of that reality.
Farmers in Junin work their one to two hectares of corn, potatoes and now increasingly more artichokes. Introduced by Franciscan monks, artichokes are a niche crop with huge export potential. Yet growers have lacked capital, know-how and access to those markets.
Enter Green Giant, or Le Géant Vert as it’s known in France. It markets vegetables around the world, including premium artichoke hearts.
Working with the local packing company, AgroMantaro, and CARE, Green Giant is helping artichoke farmers get business training, microloans, technical and agronomic skills to better manage and plan their crops, as well as connections to area farmers to collectively negotiate transportation rates and help at harvest time.
It’s an investment for the future that will help Green Giant have a steady source of premium artichokes for consumers around the world.
Growers like Muñoz are earning a steady and higher income from improved yields and quality – as well as an export market through Green Giant.
For AgroMantaro, it means providing steady income to more than 600 employees at its processing plant.
First year results are promising. Yields for one artichoke variety jumped 70 percent, and a new variety exceeded expectations.
Muñoz is using her higher income to send her oldest son to the University of Lima.
In developing economies, like Peru, we are continually looking for opportunities to create economic, environmental and social value with external partners, including suppliers.
By doing this, we are helping to ensure sustainable sourcing of raw materials while boosting the incomes of smallholder farmers and raising living standards in their communities – truly, shared value for all.
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