Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to food security.
Around the world, there are an estimated 475 million farms of less than two hectares in size. These smallholder farms use 12 percent of the world's agricultural land, and yet are depended upon to produce 80 percent of the food that is consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why the productivity and quality of their harvest is so critical to the food security of many families and communities.
With many of these regions lacking in infrastructure and services, smallholder farmers unleash their ingenuity to manage their risks. Yet, incredible resourcefulness alone, often with only limited tools and irrigation means, poorly performing seed varieties, and little in the way of inputs or crop protection, does not make it easy to cope with variables like climate change, pests and disease.
A wide range of public and private initiatives are working to address these inequities in access to innovation, and significant progress is being made in delivering modern tools to farmers in developing regions of the world. Nevertheless, to fully support smallholder farmers in their efforts to reliably feed their families and communities, we must match the delivery of modern tools with the effective sharing of knowledge.
Global Head Food Security and Advocacy
As global head of food security, that’s why my objective is to drive awareness and action with food security stakeholders related to the benefits of modern agriculture, and the Bayer portfolio, through impactful partnerships and collaboration.
Working on a multifaceted and interconnected challenge such as food security will require patience, humility, trust and focused strategic direction. To this end, I believe three pillars are critical for food security success: improving agricultural production; improving food system infrastructure and improving people’s nutrition.
Of course, coming back to the title of this post, no one organization can deliver on this agenda. That’s why I’ll be looking for collaborative partnerships with influential stakeholders to promote knowledge transfer and sharing, to help lead transformational discussions on the importance of innovation and sustainability, and to build networks and coalitions with a strong footprint and influencing power.
Additionally, success in today’s global economy can require that smallholder farmers have broader knowledge of regional and global food systems. For example, to sell their products in many areas, farmers must now navigate a range of certifications that demonstrate crops are grown using safe and sustainable practices.
Bayer’s BayG.A.P. service program is one example of knowledge transfer that can help smallholder farmers to meet the demands of the value chain. Developed in partnership with GLOBALG.A.P., this initiative includes training in areas ranging from safe and efficient use of crop protection products to the navigation of various certification processes. The program also supports field advisors who can provide ongoing advice to farmers throughout a growing season. One example of BayG.A.P. in action is our work with PepsiCo to train growers in Thailand on food safety and sustainable practices.
Through this program and others, we’re making inroads to not only deliver new tools to smallholder farmers, but also to match them with the knowledge needed to successfully navigate today’s food chain. Continued collaboration will be crucial to our efforts to help these farmers to maintain and build food security in the years ahead.