Smallholder farmers provide 100% of the tomatoes in Kissan ketchup

June 2015: India businesswoman Manisha Dhatrak set up a processing plant to stop local crops being wasted. The smallholder farmers she works with provide 100% of the tomatoes we use to make our Kissan ketchup.

Manisha Dhatrak of Varun Agro with a tomato farmer in India

Increasing yields, improving crops

Three years ago, Manisha noticed farmers in Nasik, India, throwing away crops by the side of the road. While these rotted, the same produce was being imported. So she set up a plant to process the local crops and approached Unilever. Manisha sources from many smallholder farmers, training them – with our help – in sustainable agriculture practices to increase their yields and improve their crop. Her company, Varun Agro, is now one of our key strategic suppliers.

Watch the short video to find out more about Manisha’s business.

The initiative contributes to our Sustainable Living Plan targets of improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and expanding opportunities for women across our value chain, while at the same time providing a reliable supply of high-quality ingredients for our ketchup production lines. Supporting smallholder farming is the most effective way of stimulating economic development and reducing poverty.

Helping 3,000 farmers now and more in the future

As Chief Supply Chain Officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi, explains: “This initiative has been very strategic for us. We don’t import tomatoes from China any more for Kissan, we use local produce. We help smallholder farmers increase their income, reduce their cost and double their yields. And at the same time we grow our business.”

The programme works with 3,000 farmers, giving them access to ongoing contracts, better quality materials, training and tools such as drip irrigation. This helps them significantly increase their yields. Drawing on our scale and expertise in sustainable agriculture and Manisha’s ambition, we have developed a joint business plan to help more local farmers.

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