What does the word hero mean to you? Selfless acts of courage in the face of uncertain odds? Incredible abilities that seem to defy nature? A force for good under the dark clouds of a challenging world? To us, that sounds exactly like a farmer. For thousands of years, farmers have always been the heroes we look to in times of feast and famine, all but enchanting the soil to deliver new life and stewarding the land to sustain lives into the future.
Since the dawn of agricultural revolution, farming has shaped the way we live. Without farmers, there would have been no dawn of civilisation, no urban societies, and little room for the development of the sciences, philosophy, and art. By providing a steady source for one of humanity’s most fundamental needs – food – farmers have allowed us to shift from hunter-gatherer societies to our modern way of life, leading to a division of labour, the rise of cities, and the tools that have driven technological development.
Today’s farmers are a different sort of hero: they’re not just feeding the world, not just sustaining it, but are safeguarding life on this planet for generations to come.
Because as our planet’s population grows in need and number, it will be farmers who will rise to this challenge. It’s up to them to feed us in the face of climatic, social, and economic pressures. It’s up to them to grow food for today - and for harvest after harvest without depleting their soils or the wider environment. And it’s up to them to feed consumers in the wider world - and also themselves, their families, and their communities.
What’s more, of the 570 million farms the United Nations estimates to be working worldwide today, around 90 percent are smallholders. That often means farms with one family owning fractional parcels of land – sometimes less than the size of a football pitch – with a mixture of subsistence and cash crops. These smallholders are together responsible for feeding almost two billion people. And at UPL, we value our smallholder customers just as much as we value our customers running and managing larger farms. Because whatever the size of the farm, farmers bear the same responsibility to their crops, their customers, and the planet.
We believe it’s time to recognise and celebrate these unsung heroes – those devoting their lives to feeding, nourishing, and sustaining the world. From the one-family smallholders to the farmer overseeing a large workforce, we want to see our heroes in the agricultural fields as cherished and adored as the stars of the football field.
As an official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ South American Regional Supporter, it’s our One Goal to harness the power of football to share these farmers’ stories of resilience, community, innovation, and triumph with the world. Stories that highlight the tireless work that goes into putting food on our tables. Stories that show just what it takes to keep the global food chain strong with staples like rice, maize, wheat, and sorghum; nutritious fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, apples, and bananas; and luxuries like hand-reared strawberries, succulent cherries, or all-natural honey. Farmers understand that their legacy goes beyond the food they put on our tables, and are at the cutting edge of reimagining sustainability. Through deep understanding of local ecologies, the demands of their crops, and the needs of the marketplace, hero farmers play an essential role in identifying, developing, and implementing sustainable solutions to the challenges facing agriculture. And by doing so, they ensure that they can continue putting food on our table for generations to come.
But just as in a football team, our hero farmers don’t stand alone. At UPL, we understand that shared challenges require shared solutions.
That’s why we’ve made it our mission to change the game – to make every single food product more sustainable. We’re committed to not only improving the agricultural sector's resilience, prosperity, and sustainability, but also to empowering farmers – our heroes of the global development story - to join us in reimagining agriculture as a climate-positive industry. For decades we’ve been working hand in hand with farmers to ensure they have the tools, technologies, and knowledge they need to reimagine sustainability in agriculture – starting with their own farms.
With all eyes on the World Cup, we’re going to be spotlighting just some of our hero farmers so you’ll have a chance to get to know them as well as we know football stars. Their stories and experiences are as wide as the world:
In New Zealand, a family-run apple growing, packing and export company is improving water management and contributing to their local community by encouraging entrepreneurship, education, and sports participation – ensuring not just healthy crops but a healthy society.
In the Philippines, a former plant scientist has brought a disease-ravaged banana farm back to life using her knowledge of plant nutrition. She’s now supporting other growers with a banana tissue culture laboratory and nursery.
In India, one farming family is facing down increasing pests and falling prices by selling dried chilis to the world, while also supporting other farmers by showcasing integrated pest management solutions alongside UPL’s ProNutiva offering.
In Cote d’Ivoire, a young man is bringing his entrepreneurial skills to the rice industry, acting as an incubator and accelerator for new technologies and Good Agricultural Practices that protect natural ecosystems and guarantee food security.
In Poland, the scion of a family that’s farmed apples for 100 years is extolling the virtues of biosolutions and the potential they hold to sustainably grow his country’s entire apple-sector.
In the United States, another apple grower is continuing a long-standing family practice with biosolutions while also introducing the surrounding community to the environmental, health, and taste benefits of enjoying locally-grown produce.
And in Brazil, a coffee plantation is caring for surrounding forest and water resources just as it cares for its coffee plants, benefitting not just the environment, but also adding flavour to their coffee.
And in Argentina, a fruit grower is meeting high sustainability standards for the environment, the food chain, and society, while also working with other farms in his region to help them become more sustainable too.
We hope you’ll be as inspired by them as we have been and we believe that the world will want to come together to thank them as true heroes as we turn with urgency, focus, and determination to reimagining sustainability worldwide.