Bayer, IFC, Netafim, and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions have launched a global alliance called Better Life Farming, to provide solutions for smallholder farmers in the developing world to enable them to grow their farms into sustainable businesses.
The new alliance will develop sustainable and scalable business models with local partners to improve livelihoods and food security.
The alliance wants to offer a comprehensive approach that covers planting seeds, precision irrigation, crop protection, finance and insurance tailored to the specific local and cultural needs of those who farm less than 2 hectares of land. It says 450 million smallholders around the world are vulnerable to multiple challenges – lack of finance, adverse climate impacts, water scarcity, pests and crop diseases, rural migration, fluctuating commodity prices, and regulatory barriers – and realise only a fraction of their potential productivity. By connecting global expertise with local insights and partners, and providing advanced agronomic solutions, the alliance aims to help farmers realise their potential by farming not just to survive, but rather to thrive as a business focused on sustainability.
An initial Better Life Farming pilot has already helped some farmers, such as Ruth Kajuju, a smallholder from Kenya. Now using enhanced farming and crop protection practices, Kajuju said she is able to afford schooling for her kids and expects to grow more crops in coming years.
“As a result of this initiative, I see myself making major progress in the next 3 years,” envisions Kajuju. “I am developing myself and my land. Now I am farming on 2 acres, but I can foresee that I will be capable of of successfully farming on 5 or more acres. And I will improve my social status and be better able to look after my family.”
Liam Condon, President of Bayer’s Crop Science division, said: “Better Life Farming is a great example of how a collective effort and commitment to innovation, sustainability and social responsibility can contribute to a better life, not only for smallholder farmers and their families, but also for their local communities.”