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Smallholder farmers hold incredible potential on our journey towards global food security when they can access the modern agricultural solutions they need to increase their productivity, better their livelihoods and work more sustainably. That’s why we’re working directly with smallholder farmers around the world to make a massive impact, together.
In partnerships with public, private, and local organizations, we can address smallholder farmers’ needs holistically. Our commitment will help increase local food production, improve smallholder livelihoods, and contribute to reducing poverty in rural communities.
We are making a difference in smallholder farmers’ lives at multiple levels, ranging from, for instance, knowledge transfer in agricultural trainings to improved crop yields, more stable financial incomes from farm work or a better perceived livelihood for the farmer and his family – all directly correlated to our smallholder initiatives and measurable based on samples of farmer populations.
In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are committed to contribute to feeding the growing population while respecting planetary boundaries. We must not choose between improving livelihoods, food production and environmental sustainability. With the right initiatives we can address all sustainability aspects creating opportunities for smallholder farmers to prosper sustainably.
For smallholder farmers, two dimensions come to the forefront when they think of meaningful changes to their farm lives: crop yield performance and financial income collection based on good harvests and effective market linkages. By providing them with high-quality inputs, such as seeds and crop-protection products as well as customer-centric solutions to support their farm management across the planting cycle - be it in forms of trainings or digital support - we can have a direct impact on smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.
Besides the most obvious change in productivity and financial incomes that oftentimes prevail directly after one harvesting season, smallholder farmers’ voices have told us how they appreciate the change our initiatives have brought to their livelihoods. In our programs they have experienced a change in the way of farming, in how they perceive their quality of life and their well-being.
We have assessed farmers’ perception of selected programs with the help of third-party providers who are experts in the field. They listen to what farmers have to tell and provide us with actionable learnings on the type of change our interventions truly make.
Ansal Tomato Variety in Kenya
With a sample group of 418 smallholder farmers in Kenya growing our tomato seed variety Ansal, 60 Decibels performed an impact study demonstrating that 83% of the farmers perceived the value of Ansal Tomatoes to be ‘good’ to ‘very good’, with top value drivers being improved production, good seed quality, and resistance to pests and diseases. Most farmers appreciate higher yields, lower loss rates, and longer shelf life of Ansal tomatoes.
Overall, 86% mentioned increased crop production, 91% increased income, and 89% say their quality of life has improved with increased incomes, the ability to afford expenses, and purchase assets as top outcomes.
Read more about the impact of Ansal tomatoes:
Better Life Farming Program in India
With a sample group of 684 vegetable smallholder farmers working with Better Life Farming (BLF) in Uttar Pradesh/Jharkhand, India, 60 Decibels performed an impact study demonstrating that 81% confirm that BLF puts their interests first. Staff outreach and field demonstrations were the top reported motivation factors among farmers for joining the program. Most farmers feel more confident than before to invest in agriculture, due to the availability of good quality inputs, access to training, new information and techniques as well as the witnessed improved crop yield and quality.
Overall, 78% mentioned increased crop production, 72% increased income, and 71% say their quality of life has improved with increased incomes, the ability to afford expenses, and improved farm maintenance as top outcomes.
Read more about the impact of Better Life Farming:
DKsilos Program in Mexico/Honduras
With a sample group of 400 small-scale cattle ranchers working with DKsilos in Mexico and Honduras, 60 Decibels performed an impact study demonstrating that DKsilos has been successful in encouraging silage preparation, resulting in cost savings for the ranchers. 82% of them witnessed better cattle health, primarily improved cattle weight and milk quality/production. The quality of inputs and technical support drives satisfaction among cattle ranchers who point out consistent and frequent advice as well as knowledgeable and reliable advisors.
Overall, 69% mentioned increased livestock production, 68% increased income, and 67% say their quality of life has improved with increased incomes, greater corn yields, and healthier livestock as top outcomes.
Read more about the impact of DKsilos:
GeoPotato Program in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh GeoPotato is designed to support small-scale potato farmers by enabling preventive spraying and easier crop protection decisions. It is a geodata-driven early warning system for late-blight disease in potatoes, devised by Wageningen Plant Research, Terrasphere, mPower, Bayer and governmental institutions. A sample group of 275 small-scale potato farmers confirms the uniqueness of late-blight alert messaging: Around 90% of surveyed farmers could not easily find a good alternative in the market and consider the alert messages trustworthy. GeoPotato has also contributed to farmers’ resilience and recovery from climate shocks such as floodings or irregular weather patterns.
Overall, 86% mentioned increased crop production, 83% increased income, and 82% say their quality of life has improved with increased incomes, greater potato yields, and better disease prevention and management as top outcomes.
Read more about the impact of GeoPotato:
In the pursuit of improving their farm productivity, farmers are faced with the challenge of mitigating climate change effects and at the same time protecting the environment. Smallholder farmers are often the first to suffer from adverse effects of climate change. Any solution to smallholder farmers must therefore consider environmental sustainability and climate change resilience.
For instance, climate-resilient seed varieties or hybrid seeds can further minimize these risks and help smallholder farmers grow their yields in challenging climatic conditions. Our solutions enable them to maintain and improve soil health as the foundation of a productive and sustainable agriculture, and the introduction of innovative growing practices, as with directly seeded rice, combine economic opportunities for farmers with environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.
Smallholder farmers growing, for instance, our bean variety Moraleda as an intercrop for tomato cultivation are contributing to improve their soil’s health in India. Beans are commonly eaten around the world and are a rich source of fiber and B vitamins, as well as plant-based protein. In addition to the benefits for human health, bean cultivation has a potential positive impact on soil health through fixation of nitrogen levels in the soil, which is crucial for plant and crop health. In many parts of India, farmers previously used local cucurbits and gourds as an intercrop but were struggling due to lower yields, virus incidents, and a lack of market interest. With a better understanding of the benefits of intercropping with leguminous crops, many tomato and grape farmers began to implement the practices by replacing cucurbits and gourd crops with Moraleda pole beans.
"I am very happy that I am part of this, and I share this with my fellow farmer friends, so we are able to provide a stable income for our families”. Mr. Vijay, Malewadi, Baramati, Dist. Pune, West India
Read more about Smallholders and Vegetable Seeds | Bayer Global
Through targeted training courses, we educate smallholder farmers on how to use our products both effectively and safely to maintain healthy plants and thereby increase the yield and quality of their harvested goods. The training courses convey contents such as safe handling of our products during use, transport, storage and disposal, the correct use of protective clothing, and first aid measures in the event of emergencies. Our objective is to continuously increase the outreach of our safe-use training activities. In 2022 we trained 2.7m smallholder farmers on the safe use of our crop protection products.
An experimental study* with a sample group of 270 smallholder farmers in India, conducted by Banaras Hindu University, India, confirms increased awareness and high adoption of responsible use practices by farmers after Bayer’s safe use training. More than half of the farmers interviewed pre- and post-training confirmed the development of a technical skill set, with preference for gaining more practice. Their attitude towards safe use has positively changed, with training adoption rates of >80%. Three quarters mention an increased quality of farming because of the training, and around 80% confirm they now feel much more comfortable doing their farm work and applying crop protection.
As part of the Better Life Farming Alliance’s training program, all smallholder farmers connected to a BLF center receive agronomy trainings at the nearby demonstration farm, including the safe use of agrochemicals. As per the lean data study performed by 60Decibels, 57% of the farmers trained reported to have applied ‘most’ or ‘all’ of the training information in their daily farming work.
Read more about Product Stewardship in the Agricultural Business | (bayer.com)
* Dr. Amitava Rakshit, Associate Professor at the Institute of Ag Sciences at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, UP/India; August 2023; based on pre- and post-training surveys with 360 smallholder farmers in December 2022/January 2023 and 270 in June/July 2023
In India, it is estimated that 20 to 50% of food produced is lost post-harvest. The majority of the well over 100 million tons of perishable food produced is transported in unrefrigerated vehicles – in a hot climate. The typical three-day refrigerated journey from harvest to supermarket in Spain, for example can easily be a seven-day unrefrigerated journey in India.
As much as 40% of the tomatoes grown in India are lost before they can be sold - a significant loss of nutritional food as well as income for smallholder farmers. Determined to tackle this problem, a team of scientists and breeders from Bayer identified two key factors: shelf life and firmness. The newly commercialized Bayer varieties have a 12-to-14-day shelf life compared to the typical 5-to-7-day timeframe. They also deliver superior fruit quality, firmness, and disease resistance as well as greater adaptability for producing more in the hot summer months.
For example, a case study by Wageningen University reveals that only about 8-10% of the Bayer variety Ansal® produce was estimated to be lost in the post-harvest chain (versus estimated loss of 20-25% for a leading competitor variety for India), resulting in approximately 23% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions per kg of marketable crop.1
Bayer’s Vegetable Seeds portfolio aims to provide farmers with seed varieties that help minimize food loss at both the pre-harvest and post-harvest stages.
1 Based on product performance data from 2013-2017 from 65 Bayer internal trials and post-harvest data from 60 growers and 10 dealers and exporters for the south and west India markets.
Read more about Smallholders and Vegetable Seeds | Bayer Global
The Nutrient Gap Initiative is our effort to enable access to vitamins and minerals to underserved communities. Through intervention, education, and advocacy, we can begin to reverse the cycle of malnutrition - helping people grow properly, raise healthier families, and lead better lives, with focus on the inclusion of women across the value-chain.
Essential vitamins and minerals come from food, a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, and supplementation. Bayer can impact both sides of the equation, with all divisions joining forces at the cross-roads of Bayer’s vision “Health for All & Hunger for None.” The Nutrient Gap Initiative aims to improve access to essential nutrients for 50 million people by 2030, expanding its scope to include both safety-net supplementation and food.
As part of the initiative, Better Life Farming initiated pilots with 22 centers in Indonesia to bring access to healthcare closer to communities based on its reach into remote rural areas. Access to healthcare facilities can prove to be a challenge, with some smallholder farmers being as far as 1.5 hours away. Additionally, the family planning participation rate in these communities is relatively low, while the prevalence of stunting is high.
In addition to agricultural offerings, the local Better Life Farming agri-entrepreneurs, together with our local teams and NGO partners, distributed contraceptive products as well as samples of immune vitamins, and offered general and prenatal nutrition education. Through the Nutrient Gap Initiative, we have reached roughly 800,000 smallholder farmers and their families, combining the efforts across our Crop Science, Consumer Health and Pharmaceuticals divisions. We have also trained around 44,000 female farmers and farmers’ wives on family planning, self-care and stunting prevention with promising outcomes in terms of knowledge adoption1.
On average, 97% of participants said that self-care is important. When asked about what they knew about self-care, their level of knowledge increased by 15%. When asked about stunting, 72% of participants were knowledgeable versus 67% before start of the program. Most participants associated family planning with the number of children; this was indicated by how they defined Family Planning as ‘having two children is enough’. After the seminars, more participants defined Family Planning as ‘forming a healthy and prosperous family’.
We will pilot the expansion of services offered with access to nutritional solutions and education given that food security cannot be achieved without health equity.
1 Assessment reports by MercyCorps Indonesia, May 2022 & January 2023
Read more about The Nutrient Gap Initiative | (bayer.com)