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Better Life Farming to unlock potential of smallholder farmers in developing countries

Bayer, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Netafim and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions have launched a global alliance, Better Life Farming, to help smallholder farmers in the developing world in growing their farms into sustainable businesses

The alliance aims to provide solutions in the fields of planting seeds, precision irrigation, crop protection, finance and insurance.

According to the agricultural experts, about 450mn smallholders around the world are vulnerable to multiple challenges such as lack of finance, adverse climate impacts, water scarcity, pests and crop diseases, rural migration, fluctuating commodity prices and regulatory barriers.

By connecting global expertise with local insights and partners and providing advanced agronomic solutions, the alliance aims to help farmers realise their potential by farming not just to survive, but rather to thrive as a business focused on sustainability.

“We need a global step-change in innovation, collaboration and creativity to help farmers across the world grow more healthy, safe and affordable food in a more sustainable way,” said Liam Condon, president of crop science division at Bayer.

Better Life Farming aims to address the fact that how a collective effort and commitment to innovation, sustainability and social responsibility can contribute to a better life, not only for smallholder farmers and their families, but also for their local communities.

An initial Better Life Farming pilot has already helped some farmers across African nations. Ruth Kajuju, a smallholder from Kenya, said that after using enhanced farming and crop protection practices, she is able to afford schooling for her kids and expects to grow more crops in coming years.

Sérgio Pimenta, vice-president at IFC for the Middle East and Africa, explained, “IFC is pursuing an ecosystem approach to supporting smallholder farmers along all aspects of the value chain. This means bringing together input suppliers, financiers and off-takers along with training for business skills and agronomic practices through a relationship that is sustainable, mutually beneficial and reinforced by a conducive business environment.”

“Through the Better Life Farming initiative, we can protect even more smallholder farmers from existential threats like droughts, hail, floods and adverse weather. By offering financial compensation for crop shortfalls and income losses, crop insurance can help farmers to rebound quickly after a natural disaster - and continue growing their farming businesses and providing for their families,” added Agostino Galvagni, CEO of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.