USAID Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at the USAID-Mars Inc. Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony


For Immediate Release

Monday, November 25, 2019
Office of Press Relations
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November 25, 2019
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, DC

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome and I want to thank Frank Mars, from the Mars Company for joining us. Today, I have the privilege of expanding an already productive and successful partnership between USAID and Mars. Mars is, of course, one of America's -- that noise, by the way, is M&M's. (laughter)

Mars is, of course, one of America's great and iconic companies. Who doesn't know Mars chocolate bars or M&M's? But, as with many of America's most successful businesses, there is so much more to Mars than merely candy.

They also produce pet care products, nutritional supplements, and a variety of staple foods that find their way to dinner tables all around the world. That diversity of product lines is invaluable to us at USAID because it means that Mars has a multitude of relationships and supply chains. They source inputs for their products from smallholder farmers all around the world. It also means that they have a natural interest in our work at USAID. They need us to succeed in our economic development mission. Among other things, extreme poverty is a business risk. It creates volatility and uncertainty for companies that source from farming families.

It drives young people, the next generation of farmers and producers, out of agriculture. And it prevents farmers from investing in the productivity and long-term health of their land. One reason Mars has been successful for so long is that it has recognized the importance of tackling poverty in the developing world and the risks that it presents. They've been at the forefront of initiatives to improve labor practices, shift towards more sustainable sourcing, and invest in the farmers, fishermen, and other producers that supply their factory, which brings us to USAID.

Today's USAID is being reshaped around several driving principles. As Beth said, we believe the purpose of traditional foreign assistance must be ending its need to exist. We believe that every individual, every family, every community has an instinctive desire to want to lead their own bright future, to be self-reliant. We believe that private enterprise is the most powerful force on earth for uplifting communities and families. Our decades of experience tells us that in many places, in most places, agriculture led growth is the clearest pathway towards self-reliance. It led us through initiatives like Feed the Future, which is built around harnessing the innovation and ingenuity of the private sector to develop market-based solutions that empower smallholder farmers. We're striving to move beyond merely grants and contracts to engage in co-design, co-creation, co-financing. In other words, true collaboration.

Collaboration is like those we've undertaken with Mars over the years, like our joint effort to strengthen labor rights and counter trafficking in persons in places like Southeast Asia. In our work with the Farmer Income Lab, a Mars-led program that brings together stakeholders across the industry to expand income earning opportunities for women in marginalized communities. These have been successful endeavors thanks to the resources and expertise that we each bring to the table. But we're just getting going with today's MOU, we aim to build upon past work together to foster prosperity and connect more farmers to global markets in more countries. USAID brings the ability to reach smallholder farmers at scale and provide them with critical technical assistance and support. Mars brings the power of markets and unrivaled ability to connect smallholder farmers to global demand. And together, we'll leverage our respective expertise to focus on three lines of effort.

First, we'll work to stabilize and increase farmer incomes so that farming is a more viable livelihood. This can take a variety of forms, and as agricultural training efforts to better link farmers with supply chains and expanding their access to credit and financial services. Those are just two of the many ways that we can make a difference.

Second, we'll collaborate to foster more prosperous, nutritious, and safe food systems. This will revolve around the promotion of sustainable practices, improving the regulatory environment, and support to government entities involved in food and agriculture.

And third, we'll prioritize women's economic empowerment on and off the farm. Our goal is to increase women's participation across the value chain. Offer them the tools to fulfill their potential and address barriers to full participation in the agricultural sector. This aligns well, of course, with the Administration's new W-GDP, Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. Our goal in any private sector collaboration is to work with a business in order to tackle problems that neither of us could do completely alone.

This new MOU with Mars will forge an even more vibrant relationship. Together, we'll reach more smallholder farmers, strengthen food systems, and unlock economic opportunities for marginalized communities, smallholder farmers, and particularly for women. And I know that through this expanded collaboration, we will continue to make a real difference all around the world.

I look forward to what we'll achieve together in the months and years ahead. Frank, thank you.

Last updated: March 30, 2020

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