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Woman continues family rice-growing tradition

Marisol’s family has been growing rice for several generations in Northeast Spain, the place where the Ebro River meets the Mediterranean Sea. Raised in a small house, locally known as barranquita, it was her godfather’s love for the rice fields that inspired her to continue the family’s rice-growing tradition. She grew up driving tractors, taking care of the family horses and helping prepare the fields.

Marisol, who now has two grandchildren herself, visits the fields every day. Every morning, she and her partner Jose walk the fields, pulling out the bad weeds and taking great pride in the rice and lands that her family has nurtured for decades.

The challenge in the Spanish Delta del Ebro region for farmers is that productivity per hectare can be sometimes as much as 30% lower than that of other sunnier rice growing regions in the country.  Salinity of the soil, plant diseases and invasive pests can pose serious threats. The rice fields in the Delta also are located near a rich natural park recently declared a Unesco World’s Biosphere Reserve, meaning farmers need to take even more care protecting the natural habitat of the area.

Marisol and Jose are farmers in the Kellogg’s Origins™ program, which promotes sustainable growing practices and supports farmers with resources and best practices to help increase their yields while respecting the natural habitats of the area. Kellogg’s Origins™ provides Delta farmers with the first ever Sustainable Rice Agricultural program in the region where rice for food such as Special K cereals is grown.

In 2013, the Kellogg’s Origins™ program helped farmers plant thousands of yellow iris’ to protect the dykes and provide habitat in the flooded rice fields. As many as 70 boxes for bats, which help reduce pests, were also placed to protect the crop and 140 native trees were planted.  As a result of the program, Marisol was able to increase annual yield per hectare in her showcase field by approximately 8%, increasing income and reducing environmental impacts. 

Marisol’s story is an example of the many women farmers of great inner strength who help nourish and care for Kellogg’s foods around the world.  Together with partners, such as International Rice Research Institute, Care,  TechnoServe and others, Kellogg is committed to support these exceptional womenfarmers in our supply chain by providing them with training, technology and best practices so they can continue to flourish and thrive.