When we began, hiking out to a field to understand farmers’ challenges was a time-consuming but essential exercise. Years later, the network we have grown and the sustainable practices we have pioneered with our partners have become a competitive advantage.
Enriching the root of our value chain with training and tools has created sustainable supply and growth opportunities for our clients and it has improved the livelihoods of 10,000+ farming families.
Today, the lessons we have learned in identifying and overcoming cultural, geographic, language, and technical hurdles are a service offering. The knowledge we have institutionalized can connect tomorrow’s marketers to the billions of farmers across the globe in a win/win/win relationship that transcends yesterday’s barriers.
It takes local expertise to apply global standards, locally. Our “Training the Trainers” Program" trains field officers who live and breathe local idiosyncrasies to guide farmers in the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
The 900 training events we have run since 2012 and the 6000 field staff trained represent our commitment to a structured holistic program imparting best practices that thrive in the local context.
Globally, agricultural practices have come a long way. But for the insights to translate into increased yields, education needs to undergo a similar revolution. Good news: Helping current best practices find a foothold in remote geographies, amidst language, culture, farming tradition challenges, without internet access or consistent electricity, has helped us develop a program that lets innovative approaches take root anywhere.
The Marcatus Mobile Education Platform (MMEP) delivers sustainable best practices to farming families where and when they can best absorb it, in a voice they recognize. The platform has three pillars: videos, digital reference materials, and training events. But the magic is in how they're delivered.
The videos feature local farmers sharing proven practices on their own farms in their local language and are shown to entire villages at training events that include facilitated group discussions led by field teams. And our Master Digital Textbook, containing the aggregate knowledge of 20+ industry partners, NGOs and ethnographic researchers is accessible via tablet for reference on demand.
We aim to teach 10,000 farming families these sustainable practices by 2025.
WATCH and learn more about the Marcatus Mobile Education Platform (MMEP).
The MMEP initiative initially started in India, but we always had a vision to extend its reach globally and partner with farmers from various regions as we worked together to grow different products. Our current endeavour leads us to Madagascar, where we are engaging with local farming families to cultivate cucumbers that meet our clients' requirements. Recognizing the unique dynamics of each region, we understand that a universal approach will not suffice. Therefore, we're crafting a management framework tailored to local specifics:
Following each training seminar with Madagascar smallholder farmers, we meticulously conduct practical sessions to demonstrate the techniques in action. Our training modules are purposefully concise, tailored to match the farmers’ attention spans, strategically timed just before fieldwork. We cover essential topics such as soil preparation, pest and disease management, trellising, weeding, and harvesting, imparting vital knowledge crucial for their agricultural practices.
What if you could suddenly increase your access and training to an essential portion of your workforce?
Our materials and the way they are disseminated are designed to reach and engage the women who play a pivotal role on smallholder farms. From identifying and featuring inspirational local women as experts in training videos to designing accessible training materials and events, empowering your entire workforce is never easy, but always worthwhile.
Our innovative training model won a 2016 Guardian Sustainable Business Award for Diversity & Inclusion for empowering women farmers through education.
Since the inception of the program, we have trained approximately 38,000 women farmers in our supply chain on sustainable agriculture practices.
WATCH and learn more about how we are empowering women through education..
You know who is more productive? Healthy people. People who have the energy to get to work and who don't need to spend their time taking care of sick family members. With that in mind, we have developed comprehensive programming to turn good health and hygiene practices into habits. Our approach combines educational materials, checklists to encourage behaviour change, kitchen garden seeds for dietary diversity, and a series of household interventions over the crop season. We aim to teach 10,000 families (about 54,000 people) about health and hygiene by 2025. WATCH and learn more about the Seeds of Prosperity Campaign.
Water is an increasingly valuable resource. We can and should use less. The good news is that today's water management systems and technology do more than save water. They increase yields. They reduce weeding requirements. They reduce the amount of fertilizer needed. They make healthier and more resilient crops. Healthier plants are more resistant to pests, disease, and drought conditions. If only more farmers knew about the opportunities. We have programs that teach farmers about these innovations and their benefits, introduce them to products they can afford and run with, and help them find financing. The result is more consistent yields, lower costs, and correspondingly more confident clients. We have already saved over 2 billion liters of water through our programs.
It takes nature thousands of years to create healthy topsoil. The kind teeming with the nutrients and life that yields healthy produce consistently. It is the foundation upon which farming families and businesses are built. We work with local and global experts to find manageable ways to enrich it. For example, we now have over 4,550 farming families trained in our multi-layered scientific composting method, and this number is growing every year. The plants and bacteria growing in our soil can change its chemistry, so we are always mindful of how our work impacts the earth. In 2022 we planted 33,836 plants in our supplier’s regions and those numbers are rising every day as we continue to plant in Tamil Nadu.
Each growing region brings its own challenges. Turning challenges into opportunities requires being prepared to learn, innovate, and pivot. Understanding how global supply practices can connect to and enrich regional growers means encountering, mapping, and then developing locally specific solutions to surmount barriers.
In Madagascar, we are defining the scope of work as we venture down this road with our new partners, ensuring the crop and the farmers are consistently and well taken care of. We know that for this initiative to really take root, it requires a hands-on approach from the Marcatus team. Because of this, we designed “The Weekly Rule.” Field officers visit all the fields and meet all the farmers once a week, the area manager visits each Collection Center once a week, and all area managers are called for a meeting every week. This allows for us to review the uptake in the training, as well as to be present for feedback, question and answer sessions, and specific needs-based initiatives as we all move through the process of learning.
Pests and diseases pose the fastest threat to crop viability, yet a myriad of farming innovations counteract their destructive impact. At Marcatus, we integrate these advancements into our training modules, sharing global agricultural wisdom with local farmers who might lack prior exposure to these challenges. Our specialized Phyto Task Force at Marcatus orchestrates targeted treatments, adeptly preparing and applying them with both expertise and specialized equipment for safe and efficient implementation.
As with soil, what you put into your value chain determines its yield.