Cairo: As part of “She Feeds the World” program, PepsiCo Egypt and CARE International in Egypt celebrated the third potato harvest season in Beni Suef Governorate. In fact, this praiseworthy program was launched by the company in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, along with CARE International in Egypt, in hopes of empowering women in rural areas, integrating them into the agricultural value chain, improving their living conditions, and achieving self-sufficiency in light of PepsiCo's PEP+ strategy.

The celebration took place in Beni Suef, and was attended by Dr. Mohamed Hany Ghoneim, Governor of Beni Suef, Mr. Mohamed Shelbaya, CEO of PepsiCo North Africa, Mr. Eugene Willemsen, CEO of PepsiCo in Africa, Middle East and South Asia, and Dr. Hazem Fahmy, CARE Egypt Executive Director, with the participation of actress Arwa Gouda, media representatives and program beneficiaries.

The event encompassed the on-ground monitoring and following up on the results of the program to ensure the extension of its impact on the lives of rural women and their families. During the event, an inspiring discussion was held with the female farmers to listen to their experiences and influential success stories, in addition to discussing the development that touched them at both practical and personal level. Accordingly, they were honored during the ceremony and handed certificates of appreciation in recognition of their efforts.

Mr. Eugene Willemsen, Chief Executive Officer, Africa, Middle East, South Asia at PepsiCo said: “PepsiCo has always undertaken the mission of achieving gender equality and enabling women to achieve their goals, be it our associates, business partners and communities, as part of pep+ strategy. When it comes to women in agriculture, they are often overlooked, despite the fact that women account for nearly half of all agricultural labor in developing countries. Here lies the opportunity for PepsiCo to drive meaningful change, and I am proud to say that Beni Suef is a shining example of the outstanding results of empowering women, providing them with the resources and tools they need to build their own future.

Eugene expressed his contentment to be in Beni Suef governorate for the first time, and get the opportunity to witness the impact of the "She Feeds the World" program in Egypt. Hence, he thanked the farmers for their tireless efforts to make a change within their community and inspire like-minded female entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture-based professions. He also highlighted the importance of supporting the rural women’s aspirations and ambitions in order to achieve sustainability in their agricultural projects, which will only come with consolidated efforts to empower them and allow them to stand out in society.

On that occasion, Mr. Mohamed Shelbaya, CEO of PepsiCo North Africa, said: “I am proud to celebrate the third potato harvest, which comes within the successes achieved by the “She Feeds the World” program locally. Indeed, these milestones reflect PepsiCo’s strategy that gives a significant focus to supporting and empowering Egyptian women while activating their role in society. By far, the program has become one of the biggest success stories that culminate PepsiCo’s development programs. Meaning, over the last period, the program was able to provide female farmers with technical training that enabled them to produce potatoes of high quality. On the other hand, the program’s participants showed endless determination and persistence, which was reflected in their ability to persuade and gain the trust of the landowners to rent their lands. Moreover, they are now able to market for their crops themselves, which proved their impactful and effective role in the society.”

He explained that over the past months, the program was capable of increasing the number of direct beneficiaries to more than 45,000 farmers, equivalent to 72% of the target that was set at the beginning of the program, and more than 250,000 indirect beneficiaries. In addition, the program was able to enroll more than 11,000 women in the village savings and loan groups, and provide 989 male and female farmers with technical training in potato farming in Beheira and Beni Suef governorates. The aforementioned achievements luckily help the company achieve its bigger goal which is reaching 100% of its direct supply of potatoes in Egypt from sustainable sources, in accordance with the International Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture Practices (SFP).

On that occasion, the actress, Arwa Gouda said: “I am pleased to have been chosen by PepsiCo Egypt to attend the celebration of the third potato harvest season of -She Feeds the World- program. Honestly, I was very keen to witness its success that the participants have achieved and its impact on-ground. To me, the female farmers are very inspiring, and what I have seen today is the best example of teamwork and eagerness to excel in a sector dominated by male. Hence, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and respect for the accomplishments each woman has done during the program, as they are truly a success story and a true reflection on determination, independence, and excellence.”

Dr. Hazem Fahmy, CARE Egypt Executive Director, stated: “She Feeds the World program has achieved impressive results along the past period, either in increasing the income of female farmers, and the number of investment loans that reached more than 300 loans which enabled female farmers to start their own projects. By far,, the program was able to enroll more than 11,000 women in the village savings and loan groups, at a rate of 111% of the target, through which they were trained on the basics of proper nutrition for women and their families, water rationalization, personal hygiene, and women empowerment. Through the Field Business Development methodology, 989 potato farmers were included in PepsiCo’s supply chain; contributing to linking male and female farmers with 10 marketing opportunities for small farmers, both women and men. Having said that, job opportunities were created for 360 women in the value chains of artichoke and okra crops, and 420 million liters of water were saved as a result of the training of more than 1,000 small farmers in Minya and creation of 30 pilot irrigation fields for modern irrigation systems.”

It is worth noting that the "She Feeds the World" program achieved impressive results in increasing the income of female farmers, reaching more than 300 investment loans. This is in addition to providing training to more than 1000 farmers on water-efficient irrigation, which resulted in saving 420 million liters of water. On the other hand, 17 health units were activated and supported by medical equipment in Menya, Beni Suef, and Giza.