Helping people and planet from the ground up

Helping people and planet from the ground up

From London’s Underground to the soil under Madagascar’s rice fields

The Aga Khan Foundation is helping to get soil-boosting agriculture off the ground in Madagascar 

This March the innocent foundation’s donor, innocent drinks, launched a campaign across three stations in London’s Underground rail network: ‘We Love the Underground.’ Visible to well over a million commuters every week, the campaign centres innocent drinks’ appreciation for good soil. “Good soil makes for good fruit and vegetables, which make for good smoothies,” says Tilly Mackintosh from innocent drinks, who is leading the campaign. The campaign also links viewers right here, to the innocent foundation. Here, commuters can find out how the foundation uses some of innocent drinks’ donated profits to fund organisations like the Aga Khan Foundation, who are improving livelihoods and the environment—by improving the soil under our feet.  

What is the Aga Khan Foundation up to? 

Between 2019 and 2023, the innocent foundation funded the Aga Khan Foundation to run ‘Zanatany’ a project supporting 23,600 smallholder rice farmers in Madagascar try out regenerative farming practices. The project trained farmers to increase their harvests at the same time as capturing carbon, improving soil health, using less labour and protecting their fields from drought and flood.   

More rice with less work while improving the environment? It’s a deal that’s good for farmers, good for yields and good for the planet. But is it too good to be true? Not according to Zanatany farmers, many of whom report that their neighbours are adopting the methods. These include: making a compost tea to fertilize your crops; changing the way you plant and the crops you plant to fix more nitrogen in the soil; leaving plant stalks in the field so the soil is more spongy in case of drought or flood; leaving the soil undisturbed so worms, bugs and microbes can do their work unlocking nutrients, undisturbed.  

The project was so popular that the Aga Khan Foundation’s gone on to help even more farmers improve their rice yields and their soil, and now they’re taking the techniques across Madagascar, East Africa and India.  

That’s enough underground to rival London’s.   

The Aga Khan Foundation is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) which works to promote and provide for the advancement of education, health, rural development, the environment and support to civil society organisations for the public benefit. ( More on Zanatany here  (

The innocent foundation is the corporate foundation of innocent drinks. We dream of a world where no one goes hungry, and we support the big, bold ideas that will get us there. ( 

More on Zanatany

Posted by Connor Friesen on March 1, 2024