Representatives of farming households in the Mekong Delta received Bayer’s Care Package which aims to support farmers to maintain and restore their production activities, respond effectively to drought, saltwater intrusion, and the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable way
As part of the company’s Future of Farming Dialogue virtual event series, Liam Condon, president of the Crop Science division of Bayer, emphasised the importance of the company’s sustainability commitments set in 2019. Condon addressed how the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic instability reinforced the need to intensify focus on agricultural innovation and help make agriculture part of the solution to climate change while continuing to ensure food security for all.
“The agricultural industry is no stranger to adversity – from flooding to drought to pest infestations – and COVID-19 is yet another stark reminder of the need to create a more sustainable and resilient food system to ensure food security,” said Condon. “Innovation, science and collaboration are key to not only solving the pandemic but also necessary in agriculture to solve the present and future challenges facing farmers.”
The Future of Farming Dialogue features a variety of internationally-renowned speakers and stakeholders from the academia, industry, and media. The focus of discussion is how to build more resilient food systems, accelerate sustainability-driven innovations, and develop new business models that can reward farmers for their services to the ecosystem.
Condon commented on Bayer’s sustainability commitments, “Especially in these challenging times, it’s our responsibility to help ensure food security and reduce our environmental footprint. We also need to help farmers do the same by providing the products, services, and technologies needed to produce enough food while using fewer resources and caring for the environment. The key to this is innovation and this is what we continue to drive forward.”
To underscore this, the company recently launched products and initiatives that highlight its commitment to agricultural innovation and digitalisation, critical levers in driving a more sustainable food system. This includes an industry-first, externally developed model that can measure the environmental impact of any crop protection product in any crop around the world. So far, the company has used this model to screen its entire portfolio and its uses around the world to understand the sustainability implications.
The launch of the Bayer Carbon Initiative will help growers generate revenue by adopting specific climate-smart practices. Bayer is paving the way towards a zero-carbon future for agriculture through this innovative, science-based, and collaborative pilot programme with the potential to deliver unmatched value to many more farmers through expansion in these countries and other world regions.
The recently introduced new short stature corn product in Mexico, known as VITALA, consists of a new hybrid maize and best practices in agronomy to help farmers in Mexico grow more, using less resources. Bayer is continuing to research and conduct trials with the goal of introducing region-specific varieties in other markets that will allow farmers around the world to experience the same benefits.
The Better Life Farming Alliance, an initiative led by Bayer to empower smallholder farming communities provides know-how, inputs, financial solutions, and market access to them. This year saw the expansion of support to Indonesia and Bangladesh and new banking services in India. Bayer also provided seeds and crop protection inputs along with market assistance and support for health and safety needs due to COVID-19 for smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Better Life Farming is also testing and implementing gender-smart approaches and creating new job opportunities for youth.
|Weraphon Charoenpanit, country head of the Crop Science division at Bayer Vietnam, talking about the Better Farms, Better Lives initiative in Vietnam |
Most recently, specifically at the local level, Bayer Vietnam in collaboration with Grow Asia and the National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC) and its network in Ben Tre province, the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has organised a training session for farmers and distributed Better Life Farming care packages to the first 100 smallholder farmers in Ben Tre, to be followed by other provinces in the project scope in the Mekong Delta region.
This activity is part of the company’s global Better Farms, Better Lives initiative to support smallholder farmers in the Mekong Delta to maintain and restore their production activities, responding effectively to adverse situations such as drought, saltwater intrusion, and the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable way. The project aims to support 80,000 small-holding farmers in the Mekong Delta region and the south-east areas.
Nguyen Viet Khoa, head of the Training and Education Department of NAEC said, “Having already witnessed the happiness of farmers who received the Better Life Farming free care packages from the Better Farms, Better Lives initiative, we highly appreciate Bayer’s contribution to the positive recovery and sustainable development of Ben Tre province and the Mekong Delta in general. We are also committed to providing the necessary assistance to help ensure the valuable benefits of this programme being transferred to the local agricultural community.”
In addition to immediate support, in the medium and long term, the programme is also providing smallholder farmers with education related to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and modern agricultural technologies. At the moment, Bayer and NAEC together with Grow Asia have conducted a series of Train-the-Trainer sessions across the provinces in the project.
In the time to come, Train-the Farmer sessions will be further conducted with the support of local NAEC networks in the provinces. Those training sessions are to support farmers with farming techniques from sowing to harvest with advice on crops, disease, and pest management, and will deliver care packages and both class training to 20,000 farmers and virtual training to 60,000 farmers to improve capacity-building through the use of modern agricultural technologies.
Pham Thanh Tri, a farmer in Hamlet 3, Son Dong district, Ben Tre province shared: “Despite the fact that this year's crop was severely affected by COVID-19, severe drought, and salinity, I and other smallholder farmers in Ben Tre province are still working hard to revive farming activities, especially for the upcoming Lunar New Year season. We appreciate very much the care packages from Bayer and partners that come to support us in time catching up with crop season.”
|Farmer Pham Thanh Tri, from Hamlet 3, Son Dong district talked about the losses of his pomelo garden and hope for the resilience thanks to the Care Package and training from Bayer and NAEC |
Bayer’s Better Farms, Better Lives and its Future of Farming Dialogue series are part of the company’s wider mission to empower smallholder farmers with the tools and knowledge needed to meet common sustainability goals. In light of the global environmental and social challenges, developing and dispersing transformational technologies remains at the core of Bayer’s commitment to creating a sustainable future free from hunger for all.