5 Percent 4 Farmers

Making meaningful differences in farmers' lives around the world

I think that the first thing to do is get down in as few words as possible what 5P4F is trying to achieve. Sam and I spent a couple of hours this morning talking about the issues over breakfast. Here is what we came up with:


The aim of 5 Percent 4 Farmers is to directly increase the income of disadvantaged farmers world wide


This means:
- Any kind of produce
- Any farmer (even first world, but not large agribusinesses)

Desired and expected outcomes:

Measurably increasing household income will:

- Reduce the requirement for child labour
- Allow growers to pay more attention to quality
- Reduces pressure on the environment

I will make some more posts of information to support the information above, as I don't want to try to fit everything into this post.

Langdon

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While I agree that eventually any kind of produce can be covered, I want to focus the startup on cocoa (because that's the market we collectively know) and maybe coffee as I have some colleagues that could be very helpful in that area.

Let's get the process through crawling to walking to running and modeled before extending it to other foods. This is going to be especially true if the process is going to be as highly automated as you suggest.

Furthermore, showing traction in one area and proving the concept will help prove the validity of the concept.

I do agree about any farmer, anywhere. I reserve my opinion about agribusiness being involved because

a) if the produce is traceable to a farmer the money goes to the farmer not the agribusiness
b) if the produce is not traceable to the farmer the agribusiness does not get the money

I do agree, however, that we should be careful about the timing of this. 5P4F needs to be established firmly enough so that it cannot be co-opted by agribusiness. That said, I would be firmly against an agribusiness representative on any board or advisory committees.
Clay, I agree about keeping the focus to cocoa (and coffee possibly) initially. As you say, we know these markets best (or have contact with people who do).

But I don't think that should change the proposed wording (not sure if you were suggesting that). Part of the organisations initial charter could specify what industries will be focussed on first.

Regarding agribusinesses. I agree that if product can be traced back to a privately owned farm (as opposed to a corporate owned farm) then the farmer qualifies to receive the 5%.

I agree 100% about keeping the board/committees free of agribusiness influence. This issue will have to be very thoroughly thought out. What if Cadbury joined and wanted to get a staff member involved? Howe would we handle that? What are the risks? In theory the organisation could be completely suborned by big manufacturers if they decided to. Makes for interesting contemplation.

Langdon
I was not proposing that 5P4F would focus only on cacao and coffee, just start there. The mission statement is broad "5P4F's mission is to improve the quality of life of farm families worldwide."

The Goals are to:

Increase farmers' incomes.
Improve the environment.
Reduce GMO adoption.
Replace abusive agricultural practices with sustainable ones.
Reduce the need for abusive labor practices (which includes child labor and indentured servitude).
etc.

The Mechanisms for doing this are:

a)
b)
c)


With respect to a large agribusiness trying to join the board and subverting it, that can be written into the charter. We need to think about the makeup of the board, it's purpose, and the mechanisms by which board members are chosen and actually become members.
No worries, we are definitely on the same wavelength there.
Clay, I had a thought on re-reading this. I think that we need to address the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) up front.

I would like to modify the conditions as follows:

This includes:
- Any privately owned farm
- Producing any natural agricultural product (excluding GMOs)


Why? Sam and I have discussed this and have the following reasons:

- GMOs do not encourage, or support sustainable agriculture in any way (Roundup Ready Soy in South America has on occasions lead to huge increases in pesticide use, often to the determent of neighbouring farms and villages)

- Farmers who choose to cultivate GMOs do so to increase their income. Therefore 5P4F represents an alternative means of increasing income that doesn't risk the environment and food supply

- GMOs represent a significant threat to genetic diversity of wild and heirloom crop populations (for example, heirloom maize populations in Mexico have been thoroughly contaminated by multiple genetic modifications used in GMO maize strains, including some that are prohibited for human consumption in the US)


This is such an important issue that I believe it should be addressed upfront.

How do you police this? In European and Australian markets (at least) food products have to be labeled if they contain GMO ingredients. Therefore, this can be managed from the manufacturer's end once again. During registration and yearly certification the manufacturer must confirm that no labeled product contains GMOs.

Langdon
The part that is consistent with 5P4F is the second point about increasing income. 5P4F provides an alternative source of income and has the potential to slow the adoption of GMO crops.

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