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Building Capacities, One Farmer at a Time
Having safe, affordable, nutritious, and sustainably produced food for an ever-growing population is the most urgent challenge we must address. To tackle this challenge, we need to develop capacities in farms of all sizes across the world. Collaboration and partnership will be key to our success.
Today, agriculture is more in the spotlight than ever before. A growing population, changing climate and shifting consumer preferences is putting more pressure on farmers—from smallholders to large-scale operations—to grow food more efficiently and sustainably. To accomplish this, we must equip farmers with the tools and capacity they need to do their important work. And by “we” I mean the entire food value chain—because this is too complex to be solved by any one entity alone.
Connecting farmers to international markets
In theory, it sounds rather easy telling farmers how to be more profitable, more effective, and more sustainable. In reality, however, many farmers lack access to the information, tools or skill sets needed to implement good agricultural practices and successfully market their produce internationally. This is where our BayG.A.P. Service Program can make a difference: Together with GLOBALG.A.P., we’ve developed training courses to support farmers around the globe in implementing sustainable farming practices, including the safe use of crop protection products and the documentation required for verification.
By supporting farmers in the process toward certification, BayG.A.P. enables them to become competitive in local and international markets, which brings benefits to the entire food chain. Processors gain access to new markets and know they are getting high-quality food that is traceable, while consumers can rest assured knowing that the food they buy is safe and nutritious.
A crucial aspect of building capacity among smallholder farms lies in promoting good agricultural practices throughout the world. BayG.A.P. trainings are organized in different countries with specific partnerships tailored to deliver the best results. For example, working with our partner PepsiCo in Thailand, we train growers and producers in food safety and sustainable practices. And in cooperation with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), BayG.A.P. is now available as an online course, extending its reach and utility.
Working together for sustainable agriculture
Implementing sustainable farming practices and helping farmers market their produce are the basic principles of the food chain. However, it’s only the first step toward global food security, because the sustainable production of healthy, high-quality, and affordable food requires the entire food value chain to work together.
This is precisely what we’ve been doing in our Food Chain Partnership initiatives—so far 524 initiatives in 44 countries covering 76 different crops!—in which growers, processors, traders, and retailers work together, hand in hand. In India, for example, we collaborate with Greenyard, a worldwide supplier of fresh produce, to help growers implement an effective solution to improve yield and quality of table grapes. And in a joint project with Unilever, we helped tomato growers to increase their yields by 15 to 20 percent, while costs for crop protection products were reduced by 10 to 15 percent.
When looking for partners, it’s always important to involve different entities, which can bring unique perspectives and skill sets. This is why we started collaborations with the non-governmental organizations Solidaridad and Triptolemos Foundation, two NGOs focusing on supporting smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin-America, and Asia.
Food Chain Partnership is all about finding solutions that benefit everyone involved—including consumers. Sometimes this can mean questioning measures introduced by other food chain stakeholders—such as those promoting secondary standards, which only puts additional pressure on growers, instead of making our food any safer.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether successful collaboration or partnerships come from other companies, governments, or nonprofit organizations. What’s truly important in ensuring global food security is teamwork and commitment along the entire food value chain. And it begins by providing farmers with the capacity to tackle the challenges related to that task.