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Supply Chain
Diageo Innovation Fund to Help Smallholder Farms in Africa Withstand Climate Change

Diageo has committed to cultivating solutions to enable the farmers in its African supply chain — who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of increasing droughts and floods — to maintain steady farming cycles and income in a climate-changing world.

This week, global spirits giant Diageo announced £450k of funding for three innovations intended to lessen and monitor the impact of water and climate crises on smallholder farms in Africa.

Smallholder farmers are highly vulnerable to increasing weather changes and water scarcity arising from climate change. As part of its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress ESG action plan, Diageo is committed to building resilience in its communities and monitoring its farming programs to preserve natural resources.

Diageo Sustainable Solutions launched in November 2020 to foster collaboration between Diageo and innovators on next-generation sustainability technologies that can help Diageo achieve its sustainability goals by 2030. Current pilots underway from previous application rounds include a partnership with EXXERGY, Dassault Systemes and Ardagh Group to develop a coating to make glass thinner without losing its strength, to reduce emissions and the resource use.

“Even under the 1.5c trajectory called for by the Paris Agreement, farmers in the southern hemisphere will need help to adapt to climate change,” said Global Sustainability Director Kirstie McIntyre. “Our next Diageo Sustainable Solutions round will create action for innovators around the world to help save lives and livelihoods in the countries and communities that are most at risk.”

The three challenges focus on:

  • A new guidebook for accelerating your sustainable business transformation

    Truly sustainable businesses address the many interconnected social and environmental challenges that brands and their customers face — and strive for net-positive outcomes and impacts, in addition to growth. SB's latest guidebook can help your company navigate the path toward enhanced brand sustainability with key insights, actionable steps and a holistic framework that defines a roadmap for good growth.

    Water: Over the next 50 years, rainfall in Africa is projected to decrease by 10-20 percent or more — threatening to undermine global progress toward alleviating poverty and enabling sustainable livelihoods, food security and sustainable development. Therefore, it is imperative that soil water-holding capacity and monitoring is greatly improved on smallholder farms to maximize productivity. Relevant solutions could include soil additives for water retention, hyper-local weather forecasting, or probes for taking readings from the field.

  • Carbon: Carbon is critical to soil function and productivity, and a main component of and contributor to healthy soil conditions; but it can also be released in the atmosphere by common agricultural practices such as tilling. There is a need to improve the soil carbon measurement, modelling, interpretation and monitoring to quantify the amount of carbon in the soil and support soil health improvements. Relevant solutions could include remote monitoring for landscape-scale intelligence, modelling carbon sequestration linked to land management, and spectral devices.

  • Biodiversity: Biodiversity and climate are two sides of the same coin; and biodiversity is critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change. It is vital that biodiversity measuring also improves so it’s possible to track the types and changes in biodiversity throughout time. Relevant solutions could include camera trapping, co-operative models of working with smallholder farmers, and on-farm or remote data-collection practices.

The pilots will be taking place in East Africa; if successful, they will be rolled out across Diageo’s smallholder farmer network across Cameroon, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, Turkey, the Seychelles, South Africa and Uganda.

Innovators, startups and those who have developed relevant technology in other sectors, or who need seed funding to further develop their technology, are invited to apply. The three challenges are now open for applications until Friday, October 7th.