Around a third of the world’s arable land is degraded – an area equal in size to the land mass of the USA and China combined – and this degradation is increasing rapidly. Land degradation means the soil becomes less healthy, because nutrients are lost. Agriculture is the largest cause of this ever expanding problem. Unsustainable practices such as overgrazing, over-fertilisation and slash-and-burn agriculture have an adverse effect on soils and farmers everywhere.
As the productivity of arable land declines, farmers suffer the consequences through reduced yields. They often have no real means to change the situation because of limited access to finance, alternative markets and methodologies.
In the end, consumers buy the produce from the land, and thereby have the power to reverse this land degradation. Yet, connections between producers and consumers are thin in our current food system, thus stripping consumers of the power to choose how they invest their money. Value chains are not transparent, and the transfer of value from the consumer to the farmer is marginal: the farmer gets on average about 4-5% of the end value of a product he or she has grown.
Grounded partners with farmers to address their most pressing problems head-on. We work with them to explore and develop sustainable agricultural models that are markedly more sustainable and profitable. Through a thoroughly holistic approach we systematically develop landscape-scale businesses that produce higher yields while simultaneously having a positive impact on the environment. In so doing we support and foster the mass restoration of nature and degraded farmland across sub-Saharan Africa.
We focus on essential oils, herbal tea and herbs and spices. These crops can be processed on the landscape, and can be sold in local as well as international markets, creating options for different product-market combinations. The crops are grown as part of a holistic landscape management plan which is developed together with NGOs and farmers, and they adhere to Grounded’s Sourcing Guidelines.
We start on the landscape by building landscape companies which are structured as partnerships between NGOs, farmers and investors. Together we select the best ways and the best crops to restore the soils and biodiversity. Through this company, producers get assistance on regenerative farming practices and/or sustainable harvesting. This allows them to invest in their soil.
The landscape company processes and markets these crops. Grounded partners with the landscape companies to sell their products, but the landscape company retains ownership of the product until the point of sale.
We aim to give consumers power to invest directly into these landscape companies by purchasing the regenerative products and in turn support farmers to produce healthier food and and better soils. This way, we all work together to produce nutritious and tasty ingredients. We operate in a very complex environment, and continuously incorporate our lessons into our approach.