PepsiCo Hopes To Reduce Famine By Investing In Ethiopian Chickpeas

PepsiCo, along with the UN World Food Programme and USAID, has launched Enterprise EthioPEA, a program aimed to increase chickpea production in Ethiopia. If project goes well, according to the company, it "has the potential to reduce famine in Africa over the long term." The press release states:

With an average of 22 percent protein, chickpeas are a more sustainable alternative to meat and have the potential to reduce risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes. While Ethiopia is Africa's largest producer of chickpeas, there remains high potential to increase yields and improve quality.

Currently, about 100,000 farmers grow chickpeas, but with EthioPEA, PepsiCo hopes to increase both the product and the quality of chickpeas, which it will use to make hummus.

This current effort is part of PepsiCo's broader strategy to become a sustainable agriculture leader. This is a tough challenge for such an enormous food group. Recent efforts to cut the sodium and fat content of certain products, along with testing a variety of nutrition solutions do show that PepsiCo is serious about its investment in global health. But old habits can die hard -- soda is still soda and potato chips are still potato chips, no matter how many Ethiopian farmers start growing chickpeas.