Greetings from One Acre Fund. I originally wrote this letter to celebrate an important milestone: directly serving one million farmers each year. However, in the era of COVID-19, serving one million farmers takes on new urgency.
Agriculture is more essential than ever. We simply cannot afford to compound a health crisis with a food crisis. Most of the nations we serve in East Africa rely on food produced by smallholder farmers. One Acre Fund farmers alone grow enough food to feed 15 million people. Our mission has never been clearer: we must help farmers grow enough food to feed their families and feed their communities.
For rural farm families, COVID-19 is a dual crisis: a threat to both their health and livelihoods. Many rural areas lack basic hand-washing supplies that can slow the virus’ spread. To earn a living, farmers depend on free movement to access supplies and markets for their goods. The impact of the disease on a vulnerable population could be immense.
But serving one million farmers is also a reason for hope. We’ve rapidly adapted our operations to keep farmers safe and well-supported throughout this crisis. We accelerated input distribution to get crucial supplies in farmers’ hands before lockdowns. We’re rapidly digitizing our trainings and repayments. We’re distributing 2.5 million kilograms of soap. Our 6,500 field staff are actively promoting health best practices in rural areas.
Through this report, we want to take a moment to reflect on the success of 2019 and celebrate the accomplishment of serving one million families that you’ve helped us to achieve. But please also know, we don’t see this as an end achievement of itself. Instead, it’s a foundation from which to build; while this crisis is daunting, it’s also challenging us to dream even bigger. We will flex and adapt in every way imaginable, in order to keep our countries’ food engines — farmers — in business. Our work matters, and at a time like this it matters more than ever.