Most Britons who love to crunch on Walkers Crisps are probably unaware of the partnership between snack maker PepsiCo and potato farmers to reduce water usage and carbon emissions. “We are applying a model of doing more and using less throughout our supply chain and technology plays an important role in doing this,” says Beth Sauerhaft, director of global environmental sustainability at PepsiCo.
Watch Beth Sauerhaft describe i-crop technology and PepsiCo’s role in feeding the next billion:
Watch: How PepsiCo Is Helping to Feed the Next Billion People (VIDEO)
Developed by PepsiCo UK in partnership with Cambridge University Farm, i-crop is a Web-based crop-management system that brings together data drawn from soil moisture probes in the fields and the local weather station. “i-crop is a tool that will help a farmer know how much water to apply to his crop and help him deliver it to where the crop needs it, and increase his yields at the same time,” Sauerhaft says.
Sauerhaft recalls speaking with one of PepsiCo’s farmers who utilized i-crop along with drip irrigation technology. “This farmer saw lower water usage, he saw higher yields, and he was growing potatoes in the area of the UK where they’ve experienced a number of droughts,” she says. “He came up to me with a big grin on his face and he said, ‘This is a fabulous partnership with PepsiCo because you’re helping me do something that I already do, but doing it better and giving me more security that I will be able to continue farming in this drought-stressed area.’”
PepsiCo has also partnered with the World Food Program, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ethiopian government to address malnutrition and promote sustainable agriculture in Ethiopia. The public-private partnership focuses on farmers who are growing chickpeas, Sauerhaft says.
“We have coached them on basic farming techniques that will help them increase the yields as well as finding the right varieties that grow even better than what they were already growing,” she says. “Ethiopians were already growing chickpeas. They consume chickpeas. And so it’s not like we were bringing some crop from some other area; we were relying on a locally used crop.”
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