While COVID-19 has rocked economies and disrupted lives all over the world, it hasn’t done so equally. For smallholder farmers, who farm 10 hectares at most, there is little room to absorb the shock of a disruption. Yet, they feed as much as 80 percent of the regions where they live and work, and so much depends on their productivity.
To assist smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America who are facing additional challenges resulting from COVID-19, Bayer, through its societal engagement activities and new “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative, is providing up to two million smallholder farmers seeds and crop protection inputs as well as assistance with market access and support for health and safety needs.
Bayer’s hope is that the Better Farms, Better Lives initiative will result in resiliency for smallholders and ensure this current health and economic crisis does not turn into a hunger crisis.
Coordinating amongst partners all over the globe, Bayer led an effort in summer 2020 to provide customized farming care packages for up to 2 million smallholders across Asia, Africa, and Latin America – as part of its “Better Farms, Better Lives” project.
Care packages are only one part of Bayer’s COVID-19 response plan, “Better Farms, Better Lives” project. Knowledge and training with new products and sustainable practices, connections with markets to ensure fair prices, and financing to provide access to cash at key times of the year are longer-term offerings. This project is also making a point to focus on women, who make up no less than 40 percent of smallholder farmers—and growing. Women have historically had lower access to resources. Gender equity is paramount to the overall project of empowering smallholders for the future.
FarmRise: Climate FarmRise™ is a digital platform for Android mobile devices. It provides agronomic information and advice relevant to smallholder farmers in India, helping them make informed decisions to reduce costs, increase yield and get better prices for output. With real-time weather and market pricing information, FarmRise™ empowers farmers to grow enough, sustainably. Using satellite and drone data, the app provides real-time crop updates, increasing what smallholders can grow —reducing time on the farm, and empowering farmers to seek fair prices for their crops at local marketplaces.
Climate FieldView: The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer, offers Climate FieldView™, agriculture’s leading digital platform. Climate’s mission is to help the world’s farmers sustainably increase their productivity through the use of digital tools. First launched in the U.S. in 2015, Climate FieldView gives farmers a deeper understanding of their fields so they can make more informed operating decisions to optimize yields, maximize efficiency and reduce risk. “Farmers have been collecting data from their farm equipment for decades. The same is true for weather data, soil data, crop performance data, the list goes on and on,” said Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corporation and Head of Digital Farming for Bayer Crop Science. “These data sets become even more valuable to our customers when they can be combined with the advanced AI tools we are developing to help drive profitability and reduce risk on their farms.”