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Supporting smallholder farmers amidst the pandemic

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The impact of Covid-19 on small scale farmers in Africa has been significant. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

22 August 2021 – Nozizwe Mhlongo farms on 10 hectares of land in Sehlakoane, a rural area in Limpopo. Some of this land she uses for maize production which recently benefited from Bayer’s Better Farms Better Lives initiative.

Nozizwe is one of the estimated two million smallholder and subsistence farmers in South Africa, many of whom have been impacted by the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown regulations.

In line with the company’s vision of “health for all, hunger for none”, Bayer last year launched the Better Farms Better Lives initiative, a global project which saw the distribution of corn and vegetable seed to help cushion smallholder farmers from the ravages of the pandemic.

In Africa, this distribution exercise has to date been replicated across seven countries including Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya.

Nozizwe was one of the many South African smallholder farmers who received 2kg of hybrid maize seeds. This gift has now yielded over 1 350kg of maize.

“We didn’t want a health crisis to become a hunger crisis. We needed to decide how to best support smallholder farmers from low to middle income countries across Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America,” says Klaus Eckstein, CEO of Bayer South Africa.

“This initiative was started to provide inputs in terms of seeds and crop protection products free of charge to small-holder farmers across these geographies in order to help them to produce sustainable and healthy crops, and to start addressing the impact that Covid-19 has had in these countries,” he says.

“At Grain SA, we appreciate the significant contribution that small-scale farming has on household food security and income and realise the damaging impact that the pandemic has had. We have worked closely with Bayer Crop Science and with our farmers, to assist as many as possible with this support through the Better Farms Better Lives initiative,” says Jerry Mthombothi, Provincial Co-ordinator at Grain SA, who believes that this initiative will continue to assist vulnerable farmers in the coming months and years.

“Helping people aligns well with what Bayer does. We have seen first-hand how this project has helped so many households, and in turn so many communities, especially as so many of the farmers that we are helping are female from female-headed households,” says Dudu Mashile, Territory Sales Manager for Small Holder and Pre-Commercial Farmers at Bayer Crop Science. “When you empower women, you empower communities,” she says.

The success and impact of the initiative was captured over the past few months. Watch the new documentary launched to showcase the life-changing impact of the Better Farms, Better Lives initiative on smallholder farmers in Africa.

The immediate COVID-19 response through the “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative complements on-going smallholder support which will aid in mid-term recovery as well as long-term resilience.

Visit  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dztI6v8lKtY&feature=youtu.be

  • Of the estimated, 550 million smallholderfarmers worldwide, it’s estimated that 97% work on farms that are smaller than 10 hectares or 25 acres and produce more than 80% of the food in developing countries. These farms are often family-run businesses that have a long history in the communities where they live.

Additional information at www.bayer.com

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