The India chapter of the so-called ‘Better Life Farming’ alliance has been launched with the stated objective of enabling better incomes for farmers by providing them with knowledge regarding efficient use of inputs and timely, better access to markets. This alliance is led by Bayer and IFC in partnership with e-commerce firm Big Basket.

Earlier this year, Bayer, IFC, Netafim, and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions launched the ‘Better Life Farming’ alliance to provide innovative solutions for small farmers in developing countries. The India initiative has brought in local partners such as Yara Fertilisers, DeHaat, and Big Basket to help implement the same. The alliance also plans to involve partners in the field of credit and insurance.

This particular project aims to reach 6,500 small and marginal farmers by 2019. However, it will run on a business model and not as a CSR activity. The project will use precision irrigation and other advanced farming practices so that small and marginal farmers can significantly increase their output, reduce weather dependancy, and generate more income.

Farmers will be provided with advanced technologies in the areas of seeds, crop protection, irrigation and fertilisers, and given training on good agricultural practices to increase production. DeHaat (Green Agrevolution) will send automatic messages with daily price information for farmers to sell their produce to the alliance through mobile collection centres. Yields will be picked up at the farm gate and farmers will receive money in their bank accounts. It can be hoped that this price transparency will also increase their bargaining power.

Peter R Mueller, head of Crop Science Division, Bayer South Asia, said, ‘We want to support smallholders because we truly believe that empowering them is crucial to achieve food security. At the same time, we want to increase their livelihoods.’