Cargill and CARE International partner to improve sustainable agriculture for rural communities in Dak Lak, Vietnam

HANOI, VIETNAM – Cargill and CARE International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a two-year program, ‘She Thrives’, at a ceremony held in Hanoi today.  ‘She Thrives’ aims to improve sustainable livelihoods among rural smallholders, particularly women and ethnic minorities from Dak Lak province in Vietnam by connecting farmers and producers to the tools and resources they need to enhance their livelihoods sustainably.

This program focused on the central highlands’ province of Dak Lak will commence immediately and run through August 2024. Over the next two years, it will impact over 15,000 people, including over 7,000 women from the province’s Buon Ho district.  

The ‘She Thrives’ program in Vietnam will focus on two key areas of change to make a sustainable difference in the lives of rural agricultural producers in the villages of Dak Lak. Firstly, by enhancing access to inclusive markets, and secondly, by increasing access to productive agricultural resources and strengthening women’s capabilities, confidence and skills to pursue the economic opportunities that work best for their families.

“Today’s MOU signing is a further testament to Cargill’s commitment to the goal of making the world’s food system more sustainable, resilient, and accessible,” said Mr. Ralph Bean, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy. “Cargill is focused on Vietnam’s sustainable and innovative agricultural sector and the millions of farmers who contribute to the food security of Vietnam and the world, and we at the Embassy are truly proud of the company and the significant economic and social contributions it has been making through programs such as She Thrives.”

“This is an important program for Cargill as we continue investing in building resilient and sustainable supply chains in partnership with critical partners like CARE. By working side-by-side with smallholder farmers, particularly women, in communities such as Dak Lak, we are able to implement tailored programs that connect farmers to markets and, ultimately, improve their livelihoods,” said Michelle Grogg, Vice President, Cargill Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director Cargill Foundation while speaking at the signing ceremony in Hanoi. 

Speaking at the launch event, Le Kim Dung, Country Director of CARE International in Vietnam, said, “Aiming at narrowing gender gaps in access to economic opportunities, the She Thrives project focuses on improving the rights of women and marginalized groups. Through creating enabling environment and factors, CARE will work with local people and partners to strengthen women’s capacity and access to economic opportunities and resources, which benefit not only themselves but their whole families and communities. Our cooperation with Cargill will help build not only the farmers’ capacity but increase women’s voice and leadership in decisions related to them.”

The program has set three ambitious goals over its two-year span. Firstly, increasing the productive capacity of rural smallholders, particularly women and ethnic minorities, to pursue sustainable livelihoods.  This will be accomplished by convening smallholders into Farmer Field & Business Groups to provide technical training and promotion of entrepreneurship. In addition, a select number of small enterprises will receive seed funding to grow their businesses and receive additional training and support.

The project’s second objective is to improve access to finance and financial management capacity for rural smallholder women and ethnic minorities through the development of Village Saving and Loan Associations and the delivery of financial literacy training to group members. The project will also introduce the community to formal financial institutions to assist further with financing their ventures.

Finally, the project aims to enhance access to input and output markets for smallholders by improving their operational efficiencies and supporting bulk buying, selling, and marketing. It will further provide technical support to producer groups and train them on digital skills, including exploring the potential that e-commerce may hold for their businesses.

“We are committed to our goal of creating a resilient global food system. Our aim is to provide training on sustainable agricultural practices and improving access to markets for 10 million farmers globally by 2030 through programs like ‘She Thrives’ and many more. We will do this by helping smallholder farmers adopt and scale sustainable agriculture practices that build the long-term viability of their farming enterprises and support the next generation of farmers. Agriculture is how we’ll come together to address this through continued partnership and collaboration among people, organizations and governments.” Grogg added.

Cargill’s partnership with CARE goes back more than sixty years and has always focused on taking long term and sustainable approaches to tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues across our food system, such as low agricultural productivity, poor nutritional status, lack of access to formal markets, and limited economic opportunities.  Together both organizations have launched 32 programs across 13 countries, impacting the lives of more than 3.3 million people. The ‘She Thrives’ launch in Vietnam represents the first program led by the two organizations in this country.

Locally, Cargill has long supported the central highlands during its 27 years of operations in Vietnam – notably with its Cargill Cares School Building program, which has already opened 106 schools nationwide. 13 of these are located in remote and mountainous provinces of the central highlands, including five in Dak Lak itself. ‘She Thrives’ program in Vietnam will take this impact forward by to addressing other immediate needs and challenges faced by smallholder farmers at the household- and community-level in Dak Lak province.