The FINANCIAL — Through the expansion of the Better Life Farming Alliance to Bangladesh and Indonesia, Bayer and its partners will provide more smallholders with better access to innovative and sustainable agricultural solutions, and increased farm incomes / In 2021, the “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative will extend to China’s Hubei Province, providing 200,000 farmers in the region with immediate assistance in the form of crop protection inputs, market access and support for health and safety needs. Currently, the program is helping more than 1.5 million farmers in 17 countries sustain their livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Better Life Farming Alliance (BLFA), Bayer’s global, multi-stakeholder partnership model that provides holistic and innovative solutions for smallholder farmers in developing economies, has launched in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
The BLFA advances many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aimed at ending hunger and achieving food security by connecting smallholder farmers to a holistic agricultural production management ecosystem. This enables the alliance to support rural development by increasing economic opportunities for smallholders and connecting them to markets to support food security in low-and-middle income countries.
“The Better Life Farming model has helped smallholder farmers enhance crop yields and farm profitability and progress from subsistence farming to commercial farming. In addition, it has empowered rural farming communities to earn additional incomes and enhance their livelihood,” said D Narain, Senior Bayer Representative in South Asia and Global Sponsor of the Smallholder initiative. “With the Better Life Farming centers, our aim is to create a more inclusive agri-ecosystem where all smallholder farming needs ranging from agri-inputs, agri-advisory, knowledge and capacity building, market linkages and financial solutions are taken care of under one roof. Going forward, we plan to scale the Better Life Farming Alliance across Asia and beyond.”
Each Better Life Farming Center is run by a rural agri-entrepreneur, offering products and services, from the partners’ portfolio directly to farmer customers. Joining Bayer as global partners in Bangladesh and Indonesia are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. In Bangladesh, the local partner is ACI. Indonesia’s local partners are Mercy Corps Indonesia, and the retailers CV Rahmawati and CV Gunung Subu.
In Bangladesh and Indonesia, BLFA’s global partners will provide a unique range of products and services such as seeds, crop protection inputs, market linkages and financial solutions. The overall objective is to ensure smallholder farmers can increase crop yields and their farm incomes through sustainable agriculture.
To date, Bayer has opened 50 Better Life Farming Centers in Bangladesh. 82 centers are up and running in Indonesia, of which 15 centers are owned by women entrepreneurs.
Covid Challenges Smallholder Farmers in China
To support smallholder farmers in China whose operations have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bayer will extend its Better Farms, Better Lives initiative to this country in 2021.
Better Farms, Better Lives, which officially launched this past June, aligns with Bayer’s “Health for All, Hunger for None” mission. Through the program, Bayer is providing free seeds and crop protection inputs, as well as assistance with market access and support for health and safety needs to smallholder farmers in vulnerable communities located in Africa, Asia and Latin America. So far, this initiative has supported more than 1.5 million smallholder farmers in 17 countries. The additional resources will boost food security while also helping to prevent the COVID-19 health crisis from turning into a hunger crisis.
“Smallholder farmers are responsible for more than two-thirds of our food production, but many of them have been adversely impacted by COVID-19,” said Jens Hartmann, Head of Region Asia Pacific for Bayer Crop Science. “We are therefore heartened that our Better Farms, Better Lives initiative has helped them emerge from this pandemic stronger. The happy faces of the farmers, as they receive the support packages, touched our hearts and tell us that the efforts of Bayer, alongside our partners in the countries, are much appreciated.”
In November, Bayer announced that 200,000 smallholder farmers in China’s Xiangyang, Hubei Province will participate in the Better Farms, Better Lives program beginning in 2021. The area rotates rice and wheat and is prone to flooding. Smallholders will receive specially tailored care packages based upon each farmer’s local needs which will include a combination of Bayer’s crop protection solutions, personal protective equipment and safety and training materials.
Overall, Bayer plans to support two million smallholders who reside in the hardest hit areas of the 18 countries that have been targeted by the initiative. Smallholder farmers are crucial to ensuring food security is maintained in China. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted their ability to grow sufficient food for their families and communities.
Around 550 million farmers worldwide work on farms that are smaller than 10 hectares. Bayer is committed to empowering 100 million smallholder farmers in low to middle income countries by 2030. The immediate COVID-19 response through the “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative, complements on-going smallholder support that will lead to long term resilience.