Data-driven innovation promotes resilience for smallholders

October 26, 2020

Science and innovation are essential to keeping food systems resilient and able to sustain communities through volatile times.

Innovations in plant breeding are enabling farmers to adopt new crop varieties that are better suited to respond to unique environmental stresses as they occur around the world. For instance, Bayer’s work to develop a short stature corn hybrid will reduce the risk of crop loss due to lodging, enable mid-season disease treatment, and open the door to even higher yields.

In Africa, a partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) known as the Modern Breeding Project (MBP) will focus on ensuring that IITA mandate crops — cassava, maize, cowpea, banana, yam, and soybean — achieve the highest yield possible, leading to increased crop productivity on farms. The 30-month project will build a more effective plant breeding system that develops superior cultivars, benefitting the over 100 million smallholder farmers who grow IITA’s mandate crops on about 60 million hectares in the humid to semiarid zones of sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, efforts to promote sustainable farming practices, including the use of reduced-tillage and cover crops, not only improve soil health and conserve water, but also save irrigation and fuel expenses for farmers.

The rise of digital tools to improve on-farm decision-making and increase resource efficiencies can also lead to a more sustainable food supply. Climate FieldView, for example, is a data- driven analytics tool from Bayer that helps farmers select the right seed, assess soil fertility, and make informed decisions to farm more sustainably.

But the promise of creating improved crops based on advanced breeding methods and using digital tools to increase harvests and efficiency is not just for large operations. Such innovations provide hope to tens of millions of smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods and drive economic growth in their communities.

In India, Bayer’s FarmRise™ app delivers a world of agriculture know-how right to farmers’ phones, including market insights, weather forecasts, and free agronomic advice. In Southeast Asia and Pakistan, a collaboration with XAG aims to provide smallholder farmers access to digital farm management know-how and technology to help them overcome their farming challenges including labor shortages, water availability, product stewardship and safe use, and, most importantly, to help them increase productivity.



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