February 26, 2024

PepsiCo’s Chick Pea Plan Includes Taking On Famine

The company’s partners, the World Food Program and the United States Agency for International Development, or Usaid, say the project has the potential to reduce famine in Africa over the long term. “If it works as we believe it will, it will go a long, long way towards improving nutrition and hunger there,” said Nancy E. Roman, director of public policy and private partnerships at the World Food Program.

PepsiCo plans to work with farmers in Ethiopia to increase the production and quality of chick peas, which the company needs to meet demand for its hummus products. Currently, some 100,000 farmers there grow chick peas, but not as a primary crop.

The company wants to invest in better seeds and drip irrigation systems so that farmers can improve yields and grow chick peas twice a year. The increased yield would exceed PepsiCo’s needs. So some of the additional crops will be used to make a new, ready-to-eat food product that the World Food Program has used to address famine in Pakistan.

Local businesses will produce and sell that product and perhaps others based on chick peas. The primary goal is to turn chick peas into a major export crop for the country as demand for them is increasing globally. “This will boost the production of chick peas in Ethiopia, but it will also help local manufacturers produce and develop products using chick peas and supply a steady stream for export,” said Derek Yach, a spokesman for PepsiCo. “The idea is to build value into the chain all the way up to the macroeconomic level.”

Because chick peas get much of the nitrogen they need from the air rather than from the soil, cultivating the crop improves conditions for the country’s other crops. Like PepsiCo, the World Food Program has been looking for a steady supply of chick peas to increase production of a food called Wawa Mum, which means “Good food, Mom,” in Pashto, a language spoken in northwest Pakistan. The organization developed the product in India to address food shortages after a flood in 2008 and began working with local companies in Pakistan to produce it for that country in 2009.

Expanding production to other malnourished regions, however, has proved challenging because of limited amounts of chick peas. When Ms. Roman encountered Mr. Yach at the World Economic Forum in Dubai and heard about PepsiCo’s plans to spur the production of chick peas for the company’s use, they began talking about going beyond that to address malnutrition and famine in a way that also would contribute to economic development.

The program will not, however, have an immediate role in the famine currently devastating the Horn of Africa. “The tough reality is that crops grow as fast as they grow,” Mr. Yach said. “Some 12 million people will remain in need for years after this famine ends, though, and we might have some impact on them.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d2d2e6bdb6a811c84dbc661ba5455435

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