Bayer kicks off program to support smallholder farmers to cope with COVID-19 pandemic, severe drought and saltwater intrusion in Mekong Delta and South East region
Bayer partners with Grow Asia and National Agriculture Extension Center, International Cooperation Department of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
To distribute free Better Life Farming care packages across seven regions in the Mekong Delta and South East
Dong Nai, September 22, 2020 – The COVID-19 outbreak is putting additional socio-economic pressure on vulnerable smallholder farmers already affected by drought and saltwater intrusion, especially in the Mekong Delta region. In order to support the recovery of smallholder farmers whose livelihoods and welfare have been severely impacted by these dual challenges, Bayer Vietnam (Bayer) in collaboration with Grow Asia and National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC), International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), has kicked-off its global initiative “Better Farms, Better Lives” in Vietnam. The program is implemented under the guidance of the MARD.
This program aims to support 80,000 smallholder farmers in the country by providing free “Better Life Farming” care packages. These packages are tailored to farmers’ local needs and will include a combination of Bayer’s seeds, crop protection products and the corresponding training materials.
“The main goal of the program is to support smallholder farmers in the Mekong Delta to maintain and restore their production activities, respond effectively to adverse situations such as drought, saltwater intrusion, and COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable way, and ensure that agricultural products can meet international food safety standards”, said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Quoc Thanh, Director of NAEC.
In collaboration with Grow Asia, a platform set up by ASEAN to connect agricultural stakeholders, this initiative seeks to expedite recovery in communities across seven provinces in the Mekong Delta and South East region, many of which have declared a state of emergency.
Specifically, the program grants farmers access to technological solutions for plant protection and provides training sessions for 80,000 smallholders in the Mekong Delta (with a target of least 48% of the beneficiaries being women) through the distribution and direct support of corn seeds (to 20,000 smallholders growing corn in two provinces of the Southeast including Dong Nai and Ba Ria - Vung Tau). The program will also support farmers with plant protection products aimed to sustain the level of productivity in the event of drought and salinity (for 60,000 rice smallholder farmers in five provinces in the Mekong Delta region including Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Kien Giang, Ca Mau).
Additionally, the program helps to improve knowledge capability among agricultural extension trainers and farmers working in sustainable rice and corn cultivation through education, training which transferring both knowledge and practice of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), thereby driving production efficiency and enhancing the income and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the Mekong Delta. This initiative will focus particular attention on providing women smallholder farmers with the resources and knowledge they need to adequately cope with COVID-19, enabling them to better provide for themselves and their surrounding communities.
Mr. Weraphon Charoenpanit, Country Commercial Lead of Crop Science division, Bayer Vietnam, shared: “Smallholder farmers play a crucial role in ensuring food security for Vietnam, but the ongoing COVID-19 situation, as well as drought and saltwater intrusion, has impacted their ability to grow sufficient food for their families and communities. Bayer’s “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative will provide immediate additional support to smallholder farmers in the form of agricultural input and consultative advice through the summer-autumn crop and beyond. By working together with the NAEC, the Department of International Cooperation and Grow Asia under the guidance of the MARD, we hope that this program will not only contribute to the resilience of smallholder farmers but also ensure the stability and sustainability of Vietnam's agricultural sector”.
Beyond the immediate response provided in the form of support packages, Bayer is working with its partners to put in place mid- and long-term plans to build up resilience in Vietnam‘s food production industry and ensure smallholder farmers are better prepared for the future.
"In the medium-term, there will be training on GAP, stewardship and COVID-19 safety measures to support smallholder farmers to improve their productivity, income and welfare. In the long-term, we aim to help smallholder farmers achieve higher crop yields and use their farms as a source of sustainable income, rather than just a means to survive. What we implement today is aligned with our vision: “Health for all, Hunger for none””, Mr. Weraphon added.
The NAEC will empower farmers by providing them with tools, digital technology, and training. They will support farmers from sowing to harvest with advice on crops, disease, and pest management, and will deliver virtual training to farmers to improve capacity-building through the use of modern agricultural technologies.
Speaking about the partnership, Mr. Nguyen Chi Hieu, the representative for Grow Asia in Vietnam and coordinator of the Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture in Vietnam (PSAV) said: “We are proud to be working with Bayer and our network of partners to deliver support to farming communities in this critical period. With Grow Asia’s multi-stakeholder partnership platform and Bayer’s expertise in cultivation advice and crop protection methods, we are confident that we can help address some of the challenges faced by Vietnamese farmers. With the agricultural industry playing a huge role in Vietnam’s overall economic performance, this is very much a time for organizations and communities to come together and work collectively to achieve sustained recovery, and this program will be a leading example of such collaborative efforts to overcome difficult times via our public-private partnership (PPP) model with PSAV.”
Ms. Trinh Thi Moi, a farmer in My Hoa hamlet, Phuoc Lap ward, Tan Phuoc district, Tien Giang province shared: “This year has been extremely unusual and unfortunate for our family as well as our neighbors. Salinity has hit my 4 hectare field, and without signs of improvement, it will take time for my family to get back on our feet. Worse still, with the onset of COVID19, I have seen a much lower income compared to last year, and this has also been the experience of my neighbors and other farmers in the area. We are grateful and relieved to see that there are increasing efforts from the government and from influential organizations like Bayer and its collaborators to help our community. This aid will allow us to recover more quickly and continue to deliver quality farm produce for the benefit of the nation.”
As part of its sustainability commitment, Bayer aims to support 100 million smallholder farmers in low-and middle-income countries by 2030. The immediate COVID-19 response through the “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative complements Bayer’s ongoing smallholder support activities, which will aid smallholder farmers in mid-term recovery and build long-term resilience in Vietnam.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and ageing global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
About Grow Asia
Grow Asia is a unique multi-stakeholder partnership platform that brings together farmers, governments, the private sector, NGOs, and other stakeholders in Southeast Asia to lift the productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability of smallholder agriculture in the region. Established by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, Grow Asia convenes, facilitates and helps scale action-focused partnerships. It also enables stakeholders from different disciplines to leverage one another's expertise, share insights, and learn from regional experiences. Today, Grow Asia collaborates with over 500 partners across six Country Partnerships, reaching close to 1.8 million smallholders through our network
In Vietnam, Grow Asia supports Partnership for Sustainability Agriculture in Vietnam (PSAV) to promote public-private partnership model in agriculture.
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