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Mars has launched The Farmer Income Lab, a collaborative ‘think-do tank’ aimed at helping to increase farmers’ incomes.

The company said the Farmer Income Lab “will invest in research and shape dialogue to produce practical insights which will be turned into action.” It said that the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, as well as Mars’ programmes in cocoa, mint and rice, will provide a way of testing the insights and implementing the new models for dramatically improving farmer incomes.

“A focus on agriculture and agri-business is essential to eradicate poverty, the first of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said the company.

“The insights and solutions will be shared with the industry to help drive wider change and impact across global supply chains. The initiative will be guided by an advisory panel of experts from academia, non-profit and intergovernmental organizations – with Oxfam as its first member.”

Mars’ Chief Sustainability & Health and Wellbeing Officer, Barry Parkin, said: “At Mars, our ambition is that those working across our extended supply chains should earn sufficient income to maintain a decent standard of living. We will be working with a number of experts to help guide the Farmer Income Lab’s work, and are delighted that Oxfam has agreed to serve as one of the Lab’s advisers. We value their deep subject matter expertise across a wide range of poverty and development issues. Together, we will work to build supply chains where everyone wins.”

Mr Parkin said collaboration would be at the heart of the Farmer Income Lab, with future members of the advisory panel due to be announced in the coming months.

He added: “We know the industry must do more to tackle these issues. The poverty challenge is too big for any one organization to solve alone. It needs all of us – businesses, NGOs and governments – to convene and collaborate, each playing our own unique role.”

The types of issues the Income Lab will consider include: what are the fundamental enabling factors required to increase farmer income? (for example farm size). What drives higher farmer adoption rates? What are the roles of the different actors in improving farmer income? What is the right long-term target for farmer income?

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