Smallholder farmers


Improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their communities.

During 2015, as part of the Sweet Harvest Foods project, 1,000 farmers and their bees produced enough honey to fill 260 55-gallon drums, totaling 14,300 gallons.

In developing economies, General Mills works with smallholder farmers, NGOs and industry partners to pursue sustainable development that addresses economic, environmental and social challenges through our creating shared value strategy. 

This strategy helps ensure sustainable sourcing of raw materials while boosting the incomes of smallholder farmers and raising living standards in their communities.

We are moving our raw material supply chain toward more sustainable solutions using a range of approaches, including certification, verification, continuous improvement and origin-direct investment. 

Spreading opportunity in Brazil and Sierra Leone

General Mills has been purchasing honey from Sweet Harvest Foods since 1998. 

We also support the company’s outreach efforts to help smallholder farmers develop sustainable beekeeping businesses in Sierra Leone and Brazil.

Growing industry

In Sierra Leone, the Sweet Harvest Foods Africa Uplift project is helping to build scale in the growing honey industry.

As part of this effort, General Mills and Sweet Harvest Foods helped establish Mel-O Africa as a registered business in Sierra Leone, contributing to the economy and local tax base.

To date, 5,000 smallholder farmers have been trained as beekeepers.

General Mills plans to purchase all honey produced through the project. The rest of the beekeepers are preparing to contribute during the next harvest season.

General Mills also has helped fund beekeeping equipment, including bee suits, supplies, tools and jugs.

By the end of the 2016 harvest season, we expect to have purchased 1,000 drums containing 55,000 gallons of honey from these farmers.

The honey is produced organically without herbicides or fungicides; and the team is working toward achieving organic certification in 2016.

Income and education

Honey is an important supplemental source of income that increases food security and enables families to pay school tuition for their children. This growing honey industry also provides employment in the community.

General Mills helps fund Africa Uplift educational programs, including a high school science teacher, apiculture curriculum and honey collection training centers.

Building on the Africa Uplift project, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a microloan organization, is helping establish local banks in the villages of Falaba and Timbakor.

Using these banks, smallholder farmers can deposit and borrow funds to build their apiary enterprises.

Reducing deforestation

The beekeepers are petitioning local chiefs to prohibit logging in order to protect the flowering trees that provide essential nectar and bee habitat.

Learn more

2016 Annual Report

150 years of growth 

Global Responsibility

2016 report