Pepsico, Ethiopia and chickpeas – a win-win-win

Pepsico are engaging with partners and the Ethiopian Government in an initiative to improve chickpea production. Chickpeas are an ideal crop – they grow well in Ethiopia, the have great nutritional values, including high protein and, being a legume, help build soil fertility.

Chickpeas – image credit and history of human use

The plight of the poor in Ethiopa rarely comes to our attention – it has to compete with our fixation on the economy and other more pressing news. Ethiopia is currently experiencing another drought and famine. And Ethopian resources are further stretched as refugees continue to flood in from its drought and war afflicted neighbour, Somalia,

Pepsico, in partnership with USAID, and the UN World Food Programme, will work with 10,000 farmers in Ethiopia to help them reap a twofold increase in sustainable chickpea production using irrigation and advanced agricultural practices. Other partners include the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The increased volume of chickpeas will have three markets:

  • the World Food Programme will produce a locally sourced nutrient-rich, ready-to-use supplementary food to address malnutrition initially targeting 40,000 Ethiopian children
  • local commercial uses in Ethiopia
  • expansion of Pepsico’s hummus offerings.

This is a great example of the good that companies such as Pepsico can generate as they build their own internal awareness of the plight of the world and the interconnectedness of the systems that sustain us. The cynical might deny the element of altruism, that I believe, is undeniably manifest in Pepsico’s thinking. (This earlier post discusses altruism as a sustainability driver).

“With the ingenuity, power and reach of the private sector, we can make great strides in ending the malnutrition and hunger that is threatening the lives of millions,” said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP. “The world knows how to prevent malnutrition. The hunger we are witnessing today in the Horn of Africa is preventable with local solutions that support small farmers in being part of the solution. Enterprise EthioPEA will change the lives of tens of thousands of children and will chart the course for future partnerships to help stamp out hunger around the globe.” (from the Pepsico website)

Among the evidence of Pepsico’s intent is the partners it chooses to work with, and the people it employs to champion such projects. Here is a video featuring Derek Yach, the current the Senior Vice President, Global Health and Agricultural Policy, PepsiCo Inc. He was previously the Professor of Global Health at Yale School of Public Health, and Executive Director of the Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health cluster at the World Health Organization (WHO). In the video he elaborates on the project.

Pepsico are also aware of the health risks that many of their products pose back home. Their 2010 sustainability report includes goals to reduce the quantities of saturated fat, sugar and sodium in their products.

from the Pepsico Sustainability Report

Derek Yachs believes that the future of Africa depends initially on more effective and sustainable agriculture. This quality of thinking and effective engagement with partners will see corporates such as Pepsico transform the global economy and society.


  1. This is fantastic. As a woman, I know the value of the nutrition in chickpeas. As a human, I appreciate what Pepsico is doing to help Ethiopians. I would love to see the techniques they will be using!

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