One Acre Fund

Farmer-first programs help clients achieve larger yields and higher profits

The Challenge

In Tanzania, limited access to inputs and markets constrains the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers. These farmers are the backbone of the country’s agricultural sector. Yet nearly 40% of Tanzanian smallholder families live below the poverty line, and roughly half of all children under the age of five in rural Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition.

The Approach

One Acre Fund provides farmers in eastern and southern Africa with the financing, inputs, training, and market linkages that they need to boost yields and increase profits. The organization prioritizes interventions—efforts to improve soil health, for example—that will improve sustainability and ensure strong harvests for years to come.

Why We Invest

One Acre Fund has a deep commitment to putting farmers first. It offers a suite of services that are designed for its clients’ ease of use. For example, it conducts training sessions in local villages, and it delivers farm inputs (such as seeds and fertilizer) to places that are near clients’ homes. The funding structure of One Acre Fund reinforces its farmer-first approach. Earned revenue from farmers covers nearly three-quarters of its total program costs, and that reliance on paying clients ensures that the organization remains keenly attuned to their needs.

Each year, One Acre Fund’s clients re-enroll at high rates to receive its bundle of services, and they do so because those services deliver substantial value. Internal and external impact evaluations show that being a One Acre Fund client correlates with significant increases both in yield and in income. A study of the organization’s Tanzania program found that the maize harvests of its clients exceeded the equivalent harvests of non-client peer farmers by more than 400 kilograms (882 pounds) per acre. Across all countries where One Acre Fund operates, yield increases of that kind translate into an average annual increase in income of more than 40%.

Complementing this focus on farmers’ needs is a commitment to learning and adaptation. One Acre Fund continuously tests, adjusts, and optimizes its service offerings. Each year, for example, it conducts more than 10,000 harvest evaluations to compare the yields of its clients with the yields of non-client farmers who operate in similar agro-ecological conditions. Then, using data from that research, One Acre Fund pilots and refines programs that enable farmers to improve their soil health, diversify their crops, optimize their seed choice, and plant trees on their land. This type of continuous learning and improvement will become more and more critical as climate change poses new challenges for farmers in the coming decades.

Tulalumba Luvinga, a One Acre Fund client, inspects the maize crop on her farm in South Kilolo District, Tanzania.

Photo: One Acre Fund/Hailey Tucker

How We Partner

King Philanthropies is investing in two high-impact opportunities to support One Acre Fund. In Tanzania, One Acre Fund is using a grant from King Philanthropies to expand its client base, scale up its tree seedling program, and explore ways to improve the dietary diversity of its clients and their families. Both directly and indirectly, this investment is helping to improve child nutrition in rural Tanzania. The vast size of Tanzania presents both opportunities and challenges for One Acre Fund, and the work funded by this grant is enabling the organization to operate effectively in that country.

A second grant is enabling One Acre Fund to deepen and scale its agroforestry work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda. With support from King Philanthropies, One Acre Fund is working to introduce trees on smallholder farms across Sub-Saharan Africa. Over time, the organization aims to create an ecosystem-level movement to promote tree planting on those farms.

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