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PepsiCo & USAID Award Women Farmers from West Bengal for Breaking Stereotypes & Inspiring Communities

● Women farmers were selected for awards as part of PepsiCo and USAID’s Women’s Land Rights and Economic Empowerment partnership. ● Awardees include Shamima Begum and Anwara Begum from Hooghly District, Sujata Pramanik, Manisha Alu, Tapasi Pal, and Anita Singh from Bankura district.

Kritika Madhukar
Since the program began in 2019, more than 1000 women farmers have been trained with the latest knowledge on potato farming and sustainable farming practices
Since the program began in 2019, more than 1000 women farmers have been trained with the latest knowledge on potato farming and sustainable farming practices

PepsiCo and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on 12 May 2022 acknowledged and awarded six women, farmers, as part of its ‘Women’s Land Rights and Economic Empowerment activity in West Bengal. 

The awards were handed over by Melinda Pavek, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General, Kolkata, and Ronald Verdonk, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy, at a special felicitation program organized at PepsiCo’s foods manufacturing plant in Kolkata. The farmers were selected for their extraordinary work in the field of agriculture and for breaking stereotypes in their local communities.  

Being an ‘Agri’ company at heart, PepsiCo in India has been working towards positively impacting the lives of farmers including women. In 2019, PepsiCo and USAID launched the Women’s Land Rights and Economic Empowerment activity to provide training to women in agriculture as part of its collaborative farming supply chain. Through this partnership, the program has trained more than 1000 women in potato agronomy and sustainable farming practices, with a goal of reaching 500 additional women farmers in its final year. 

Shamima Begum and Anwara Begum from West Bengal’s Hooghly district, and Sujata Pramanik, Manisha AluTapasi Pal, and Anita Singh from West Bengal’s Bankura district received awards for breaking the gender stereotypes by learning and implementing the best practices related to collaborative potato farming, professionalizing their work as farmers. The women have not only improved their livelihoods as a result of the program. but have also positively influenced their communities by inspiring other women farmers to join the program

Sonia Laul, Consul for Political and Economic Affairs; Rakeeb Hossain, Political-Economic Assistant, U.S. Consulate, Kolkata; Subrataa Chakraborty, Country Director, ILRG India program; Viraj Chouhan, Chief Government Affairs and Communications Officer, PepsiCo India; Pratap Bose, Agro Director Supply Chain, PepsiCo India; and Cameli Pawar, Associate Director, PepsiCo Kolkata plant and Co-pack operations, were among the other key dignitaries who attended the awards ceremony. 

Speaking at the occasion Melinda Pavek, Consul General, US Consulate General said, “Advancing gender equity is fundamental to every individual’s economic security and well-being. The opportunity to meet and learn about the tremendous achievements of women farmers in West Bengal is inspiring. These leaders have truly set a powerful example for others in their communities to emulate. The United States stands committed to supporting programs that are focused on offering economic opportunities and leadership roles to farmers in India. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both PepsiCo and USAID for running this program in West Bengal so effectively. Such programs go a long way in removing the structural inequalities and helping women farmers realize their immense potential.” 

Subrataa Chakraborty, Country Director, ILRG India program said, “It is a moment of pride for us to see how these women farmers in West Bengal are being acknowledged for their undying spirit and commitment to prove themselves in the largely male-dominated field of agriculture.

The specialized training under this program focuses on elevating the social status of women farmers who have been largely considered farmwives or farm assistants by themselves, and their family members. With great support from PepsiCo India, we would continue to focus on strengthening the capabilities of these women as farmers and as individuals to ensure they contribute to the decision-making process within the families and outside as well.”

 

Pratap Bose, Agro Director, Supply Chain, PepsiCo India, said, “The heartening stories of pride and contentment of these women farmers represent the real success of our program. PepsiCo from day one has focused on bringing these farmers into the company’s supply chain, recognizing them as farmers, and developing them as entrepreneurs. The farming community especially women farmers in West Bengal have shown a deep interest in our sustainable farming program.

USAID/India Mission Director, Veena Reddy provided a message to mark the occasion, stating, “At USAID, we believe that when we increase incomes and opportunities for women, entire communities, economies, and countries benefit. USAID is proud to work with PepsiCo India and our partners to increase women’s economic empowerment across the entire supply chain for potatoes. Through this partnership, we are improving women’s access to land, skills, and employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to increase adoption of sustainable farming practices, and women’s income and agency, showing that investing in women’s empowerment makes social and economic sense.”

 

The PepsiCo-USAID Women’s Land Rights and Economic Empowerment activity in West Bengal was also the catalyst for a new five-year, $20 million partnership between PepsiCo and USAID that plans to support the global food and beverage leader's efforts in Uttar Pradesh (India), Colombia, Vietnam, and Pakistan to empower women in agriculture and help build a more sustainable food system. The goal of the project is to drive inclusivity across the food and beverage industry by demonstrating that actively engaging women as critical drivers of PepsiCo's sustainable sourcing strategy leads to better business results.  

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