Walmart Foundation has begun collaboration on a programme that aims to benefit 10,000 smallholder farmers in Andhra Pradesh through the introduction of sustainable irrigation products and practices. The programme is being offered by the International Development Enterprises-India (IDEI) and supported with funding from the Foundation through a grant of US $750,000.

The programme’s goals are to introduce sustainable irrigation products and practices and create a complementary support ecosystem to boost farm yields, reduce negative environmental impacts, and increase market access and smallholder farmers’ income. The Foundation will help IDEI take its Integrating Smallholder Farmers into Market Systems programme to 10 districts in the state.

While more than 62 per cent of the population of Andhra Pradesh are dependent on agriculture, many farmers live in poverty and lack access to irrigation systems or technologies that can help them improve their productivity and income. By the end of the project period, it is expected to generate an additional $7.4 million in annual farming income in the state, with individual gains of $400 per smallholder farmer household per year. Substantial water savings in agriculture are also anticipated, amounting to 33.4 million m3 of water saved for the state.

The programme will target smallholder farming families with sustainable irrigation interventions and support for market-oriented development. This is expected to help smallholder farmers increase the planting and harvesting window as well as yields, and enable greater crop variety and productivity. It will also generate cost savings and reduce negative environmental impact by curbing excess water and fossil fuel consumption.

IDEI will simultaneously work to create and facilitate an ecosystem of entrepreneurs to provide access to affordable water-use productivity technologies and for the maintenance of these systems.

The IDEI grant is part of the Walmart Foundation’s commitment, announced in September 2018, to invest $25 million in philanthropic initiatives to improve farmer livelihoods in India over the next five years. Under this commitment, about $2 million was granted to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and launched in Andhra Pradesh last year with the unveiling of a groundnut-processing facility.

The Foundation is focused on empowering farmer producer organisations (FPOs) to serve as sustainable intermediaries that can help smallholders grow their incomes. It aims to support FPOs and their farmer members to develop sustainable farming practices, share business best practices, add value to primary commodities, and improve access to financing and markets.

CB’s queries on the basis of calculations behind the forecasted figures quoted in the release, duration of the project, impact assessment and future goals, and details on its plan to ‘catalyze an ecosystem of entrepreneurs’ was met with silence from the organisation’s side.