Unilever and GAIN to help 2.5 million farmers

GAIN and Unilever have signed an agreement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that aims to improve the lives of 2.5 million farmers and their families.

The Memorandum of Understanding has targets to improve the health and nutrition of smallholder farmers and farm workers in Unilever’s supply chain, through the creation of a global Nutrition Intervention Programme (NIP).

Rural communities are among the most food and nutrition insecure populations, with women and children bearing the highest health burden. Childhood stunting rates in rural areas are higher than urban areas due to the lack of availability of nutritious foods, particularly during lean seasons. The programme will improve the diets of farmers and their families in Unilever’s supply chain with a specific focus on female farmers, pregnant women and young children. It will also contribute to improved nutrition through hand washing, based on Unilever’s successful Lifebuoy model.

Over time the programme will aim to reach all of Unilever’s 800,000 smallholder farmers and their families, improving nutrition for 2.5 million people in rural communities. The first programmes will be implemented in India to improve the nutrition and health of more than 20,000 farming families (100,000 people) in Unilever´s food business supply chain. Interventions will include better information on nutritious diets, increased access to vegetables and livestock and planting nutrient rich trees and plants in between planting cycles.

The 2014 Global Nutrition Report found that investing in nutrition is key to development efforts related to food, poverty, health, gender and employment, with one of the highest returns on investment. For every $1 spent on nutrition at least $16 will be returned in economic benefits. The effects are inter-generational – well-nourished children are more able to reach their full cognitive and physical potential and to raise healthy families, helping to secure healthy future generations.

Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director, GAIN said: “Despite producing the majority of the world’s food, smallholder farmers and their families face some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Investing in nutrition through supply chains improves the living conditions of farmers and their families, the impact of which is felt throughout entire communities.”

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Unilever said: “There is a business argument as well as a moral case for this. Working with our smallholder farmers to ensure that they and their families stay healthy through good nutrition and hygiene drives economic development and helps us to meet our goals on sustainable and profitable growth.”

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Published 22 January 2015

About GAIN

• Close to two billion people survive on diets that lack the vital nutrients needed for their bodies and brains to grow properly, for them to live a healthy life, and raise a healthy family.
• The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization launched at the UN Special Session on Children in 2002 to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition.
• We act as a catalyst – building alliances of governments, business and civil society – to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition. Today our programs are on track to reach over a billion people with improved nutrition by 2015.
• We focus our efforts on children, girls and women because we know that providing these groups with sustainable, nutritious diets is crucial to ending the cycle of malnutrition.
• The 2014 report Cultivating Nutritious Food Systems: A Snapshot Report follows nutrition along the agricultural supply chain and explores the success stories and challenges where agriculture and nutrition are working together.
• For more information please visit www.gainhealth.org.uk

About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. We work with 174,000 colleagues around the world and generated annual sales of €49.8 billion in 2013. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2013). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands, 14 of which – Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Surf, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s ice cream, Lux, Flora / Becel, Rama / Blue Band, Magnum and Axe / Lynx – now generate a turnover of €1 billion or more.

Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals, we have defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.

Unilever has been ranked number one in their sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. Unilever has been named sector leader of the CDP’s Forests programme for three consecutive years, and in 2014 led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey – for the fourth year running. In 2014 Unilever was named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers in all sectors for the second year running, and also LinkedIn’s No. 1 most sought-after FMCG employer worldwide.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.

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