Diageo Innovation Fund to Help Smallholder Farms in Africa Withstand Climate Change – Sustainable Brands

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

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

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:

Water: Over the next 50 years, rainfall in Africa is projected to
10-20 percent or more — threatening to undermine global progress toward
alleviating poverty and enabling sustainable
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
There is a need to improve the soil carbon
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

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.