DFC partner One Acre Fund recognized with Nicholas Kristof’s Holiday Impact Prize
This week, President Biden will host leaders from across Africa at the U.S. Africa Leaders’ Summit to discuss ways to deepen collaboration between the United States and the countries of Africa, advance shared goals, and address urgent challenges.
Across much of Africa, one of the most persistent challenges is hunger and malnutrition. Even as much of Africa experiences rapid economic growth and urbanization, and attracts increased investment in information technology, a large share of the population works in a basic form of subsistence farming that does not nearly meet food needs.
In Burundi, for example, agriculture accounts for 90 percent of all employment, but accounts for just 40 percent of GDP, and leaves 60 percent of children chronically malnourished.
DFC has long recognized the urgent need for investment in Africa’s smallest farmers to meet the continent’s growing food and nutrition needs, and recently DFC’s longstanding partner One Acre Fund was awarded Nicholas Kristof’s 2022 Holiday Impact Prize highlighting nonprofits doing outstanding work.
One Acre works with smallholder farmers across nine countries in East Africa to help them access essential inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, as well as training so they can increase yields to support their own families and access larger markets. As the name suggests, many of these farmers work on just a single acre of land. Farmers supported by One Acre increase production by an average of 40 percent.
DFC, together with OPIC previously, has provided financing to One Acre for close to a decade to help it expand its reach. This year, DFC committed an additional $20 million in financing together with technical assistance to help One Acre provide agriculture inputs and training as well as agricultural insurance to farmers in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
The World Bank estimates that although 63 percent of Africa’s smallholder farmers experience crop failures, often as a result of climate change, only one percent currently have agricultural insurance. DFC’s financing is expected to provide inputs, training, and insurance to more than 8.8 million smallholder farmers, half of them female farmers.
“I chose One Acre Fund partly because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised food prices worldwide,” Kristof wrote. “Even before the Ukraine war, one-fifth of all children worldwide were stunted from malnutrition.”
By employing thousands of local workers, One Acre has been highly effective in helping DFC reach small rural farmers most in need of support, while scaling its model to benefit millions of farmers. With DFC’s support, One Acre currently works with almost 1.5 million farmers, helping ensure they have rich soil and the tools and training needed to produce plentiful harvests. One Acre is aiming by 2030 to provide training and services to 10 million farmers, representing 10 percent of the families in the world living on less than one dollar a day.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, One Acre distributed masks, helped farmers without piped water set up handwashing stations, and made more of its training available via mobile phone. More recently, it worked with farmers from 20 villages in Tanzania’s Wanging’ombe District to help them better understand their soil health and nutrient ratios. In Rwanda’s Gakenke District, Prudence Muragijimana was able to more than double his maize and bean harvests from just 1.1 acres of land to generate enough income to pay for his family’s medical insurance.