Food giant Mars has launched a ‘Farmer Income Lab’, a collaborative ‘think-and-do tank’ aimed at helping to tackle the low incomes of smallholder farmers in its supply chain.

The Farmer Income Lab aims to produce practical insights which will be turned into action through dialogue and research. The insights and solutions will be shared with the industry to help drive wider change and impact across global supply chains.

The initiative will be guided by an advisory panel of experts from academia, non-profit and intergovernmental organizations – with leading poverty action charity Oxfam as its first member.

A focus on agriculture and agri-business is essential to eradicate poverty, the first of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The Lab is part of a broader supply chain transformation underway at Mars to improve the business’ impact on societies and the environment. The company is embedding sustainable sourcing into procurement practices and has put in place public position statements and policies to guide its business on human rights. In 2015, the company launched the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming initiative with Danone – an investment fund that aims to invest €120 million over ten years to build sustainable agricultural supply chains with smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Judy Beals, Private Sector Department Director at Oxfam, said: "This is a courageous step for Mars to take. We believe this initiative holds a lot of promise, contributing to meaningful change for farmers living in poverty.”