Monday 17 March 2014

BHP Billiton new agricultural initiative

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities officially launched the LEAD Project in Mozambique, pledging US$8.8 million over five years to the new agricultural initiative that will benefit smallholder farmers from three districts in Maputo Province.

Managed by ACDI/VOCA, a global economic development organisation that has worked in 146 countries since 1963, the LEAD Project stands for “Livelihoods Empowerment and Development” and began in August 2013.

The project will work with more than 50 producer organisations that represent farmers to increase their income and business opportunities, improve production capacity through farm-level training and facilitate access to financing.  The project has already taken the first steps to establish around 30 farmer field schools and over the life of the project it will directly benefit 6,500 households in the area.

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities Chairman, Ian Wood, said BHP Billiton was proud to be part of a project that is seeking to improve the livelihoods of smallholder horticulture farmers in the Boane, Marracuene and Namaacha districts of Maputo Province.

“The LEAD project had strong appeal for the BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities’ Directors right from the outset because it builds on people’s affinity with their land in Mozambique and their history in small scale farming,” he said.

“We hope the skills and knowledge shared during this project will help improve the livelihoods of people over many generations to come.”

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities is a charity established by BHP Billiton as part of its community investment program.  Most projects supported by BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities are five year projects and they predominately focus on building capacity of individuals and institutions, so that after the project is completed, it will leave a lasting positive legacy.

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities supports a number of projects in Colombia, Australia, South Africa and Mozambique.  Other projects in Mozambique, in addition to the LEAD project, focus on maternal and child health, malaria and access to clean water, with the investment in the country totalling US$30 million.

BHP Billiton is the major shareholder of the Mozal aluminium smelter in Boane, Mozambique.