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FAQs

Find answers to commonly asked questions about Better Life Farming and how we work to improve the lives of smallholder farmers.

What is Better Life Farming?

Better Life Farming is a long-term partnership of Bayer, IFC (International Finance Corporation), Netafim and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, enabling smallholder farmers to grow their farms into commercially viable and sustainable farming businesses. This will encourage financial security, increase know-how, and create meaningful impact in their lives.

What is smallholder farming?

There are about 570 million farms worldwide, most of them are smallholder farms. Smallholder farms are small farms, which mainly rely on family labor. 

They are the backbone of agricultural production in developing countries. According to the FAO, most of the food that is consumed in developing countries is a product of smallholder farms. Small, family-run farms are also home to the majority of people living in absolute poverty, and half of the world’s undernourished people.

Smallholder farmers are not a homogeneous group. Some are simply trying to feed their family, while others have established a profitable business. Many in between are seeking dependable income. With our smallholder farming engagement we want to empower this group to reach their farming potential.

Where are smallholder farms located?

Smallholder farmers are located around the globe, though Better Life Farming’s initial efforts are in developing and emerging countries in India, South East Asia and Africa.

How many smallholder farmers are there worldwide?

It´s estimated that there are more than 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide.

What do smallholder farmers have to do with feeding the world?

There are about 570 million farms worldwide. Most of them are smallholder farms and they are producing most of the food that is consumed in developing countries.

In developing countries, where most smallholder farmers are located, 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished. The 815 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected to join the population by 2050, mostly in these developing countries, need to be fed.

How does Better Life Farming support smallholder farmers?

Each of our organizations have been working with smallholder farmers for many years to empower them to reach their farming potential and foster reliable growth for their businesses, communities, and livelihoods.

We know there is no one solution that fits all. We want to learn from smallholder farmers and fully understand their needs. Our approaches focus on the following main areas:
 
1. Education
2. Customized Agronomic Solutions
3. Insurance and Finance
4. Market Access and Fair Prices
5. Partnerships 

We provide education in a variety of areas including agricultural and technical know-how, safe use of crop protection products, entrepreneurship, and access to resources and markets.

We share customized agronomic solutions that incorporate high quality seeds and traits, a variety of crop protection products and precision irrigation technologies to help smallholder farmers maximize their yield, sustainably.

We offer insurance and risk transfer solutions to make smallholders more resilient to external shocks, helping them manage risks to their farming business, protecting their incomes and ensuring they have access to credit in the event of disaster-related losses.

We offer market access and fair prices collaborating with different partners to ensure transparency in the value chain, with the aim of offering fair prices for produce.

And we seek partnerships with public, private, and local organizations to combine skills and knowledge to meet smallholder farmers’ needs holistically and to increase our probability of success.

Are there specific crops and/or geographic areas where Better Life Farming is focusing their work?

Better Life Farming is initially focusing on crops and geographies where many smallholders exist and where the existing productivity gap is high. We believe we can strategically support these farmers with holistic, scalable solutions that lead to significant farming success and increase of livelihoods. Currently these include India, South East Asia and Africa.

Where and when has Better Life Farming established pilots and projects?

Better Life Farming has pilots and projects in the following areas:

  • India: Uttar Pradesh (June 2016); Jharkhand (June 2017)
  • Philippines: Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte (2018)
  • Thailand: Sisaket (May 2017)
  • Indonesia: Central Java, East Java and Banten (2018)
  • Vietnam: Di Ling and Lac Duong district in Lam Dong province (April 2018); Long An, Dong Thap, Tien Giang, Hau Giang, Can Tho, and Kien Giang (2018)
     

Click here for information on our projects.

How many smallholder farmers are part of these projects?

Better Life Farming is working with more than 10,000 smallholder farmers across the projects. Some of their incredible stories can be found here.

What do these projects entail?

In these projects, smallholder farming managers and field officers are working closely with smallholder farmers, giving them direct counsel in the field. At the same time they are getting valuable insights regarding specific smallholders´ needs and challenges, which we use to evolve our projects and customized business models.

As we monitor and evaluate the outcomes of these projects, we will scale the effort by adapting this model to other farms as well as to other countries and regions. Click here or more information on current projects.

How do smallholder farmers benefit from Better Life Farming’s projects? What are concrete results?

Our projects increase the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers by providing training, access to resources and markets, and partnering with public, private and local organizations. Increased production and productivity lead to higher income, more meals per day, new homes, and better education and health for families.  At the highest level, they are enabled to help fight hunger and poverty in their own communities and to demonstrate farming can be an attractive business that generates a stable income and a better life. This indirectly has a positive effect on rural development as young people become interested in the business of agriculture.

Here are some of the latest results in our projects:

  • India, Green Chili:
    • 103% increase in yield
    • Tripled net income
  • India, Tomato:
    • 100% increase in yield
  • Philippines, Rice:
    • 57% incremental yield (Bohol)
    • 170% net income increase (Bohol)
  • Thailand, Rice
    • 17% incremental yield (Sisaket)
    • 18% net income increase (Sisaket)
  • Indonesia, Rice
    •  27.1% incremental yield (Banten)
    • 73% net income increase (Banten)
  • Vietnam Rice
    • 26% net income increase in Long An (Mekong Delta)
  • Vietnam, Coffee
    • ~ 30% incremental yield
       

Click here for more information on current projects.

How does Better Life Farming manage for smallholders to stay independent?

We want to empower smallholder farmers to become self-sufficient. Together with public, private and local partners we provide solutions that meet the needs across the entire value chain to help them increase their productivity and to make farming a reliable and attractive business that leads to a stable income and in turn to a better life. They have the free choice to join our projects and they can leave them at any time.

How does this relate to UN Sustainable Development Goals? Which goals does Better Life Farming most directly impact?

Better Life Farming is committed to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is part of the diverse group of partners collaborating with the UN to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. Specifically, our efforts related to smallholder farming affect the goals:

  • #1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • #2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture