Impact and One Acre Fund
At One Acre Fund, we often say that impact is our northstar. Since 2006, our mission has been to create meaningful impact by helping smallholder farmers improve their productivity and increase their on-farm incomes. Our vision has always been to become one of the world’s most impactful organizations and to serve millions of farmers across the planet.
As we head into our tenth year of operation, we are as committed as ever to helping farmers improve their productivity and incomes. However, we have realized that in order to permanently break the cycle of hunger and poverty for future generations of farmers, we need to push ourselves to think about our long-term impact.
We reformulated our organizational vision this year to reflect our new thinking around long-term impact. We now envision a future in which every farm family has the knowledge and means to achieve big harvests, support healthy families, and cultivate rich soils.
As our organizational vision has evolved to reflect a more long-term perspective, our thinking about impact measurement has also evolved. We have consistently used incremental profit as our main indicator to measure the impact of our operating model on farmers’ harvests. However, measuring profit per acre planted is only one piece of the puzzle. We are expanding our definition of impact to include categories like farmer health and resilience, and we are focusing on new impact metrics in order to gain a fuller picture of our impact on farmers’ lives.
One new way we are looking to measure holistic, long-term impact for the farm families we serve is through a longitudinal study. Launched in 2015, the study will run for at least three years in our two largest countries (Kenya and Rwanda) and focus on evaluating secondary outcomes in areas such as health, childhood nutrition, and education. We introduced this study to gain a better understanding of how we impact farmers’ lives beyond the farm. This study will help us understand in which secondary areas we are generating strong impact and what programmatic changes would spur improvement.
Measuring farmer access to things like education and health care helps us paint a picture of how our work contributes to healthy families. To better understand how our work contributes to rich soils, we’ve introduced several soil health initiatives that will allow us to develop targeted, data-driven solutions to protect farmers’ lands for future generations. We are currently conducting a longitudinal soil study, processing thousands of samples per month in our newly established soil analytics lab. Through our robust innovations platform, we are testing an extensive range of practices to boost soil health, including biochar, green manure cover crops, rhizobia, conservation agriculture, and more agroforestry options.
Pioneering long-term solutions that allow us to serve farmers, improve their quality of life, and protect and enhance the quality of their soils is our top priority. We remain focused on helping farmers overcome the challenges they face today, but if we can fulfill our new long-term vision, we will also help farmers successfully weather the challenges of tomorrow, and ensure that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will lead prosperous, healthy lives.