Partnerships in Agriculture Are More Important Than Ever
For the last seven-to-eight years, I’ve been involved in Bayer Food Chain Partnership activities. I’ve also worked in different areas of the food value chain my whole career. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you need reliable partners if you want to have long-term success.
The food value chain is no stranger to the benefits of having reliable partners. Starting in the late 1990s, more and more companies announced that they wanted to buy crops only from growers that had implemented good agricultural practices, and they got more involved in the production systems of their suppliers. As a result, the entire food chain started working together more closely — and partnerships became even more important.
Supporting table grape growers in India
Let me give you an example of a successful project based on teaming up along the food chain. In 2010, strict restrictions concerning residues seriously limited the export of Indian table grapes. Together with Greenyard, a worldwide supplier of fresh produce, we promoted the sustainable production of high-quality grapes in India, boosted confidence among stakeholders, and convinced the 109 participating growers of our approach. During that process, we listened carefully to their requirements and needs to make sure that everyone benefited from the project. We developed a tailored crop protection schedule for the table grapes and supported local growers in implementing good agricultural practices and sustainable pest management. As a result, exportable yields increased on average by 15 to 20 percent and Greenyard has since been able to source grapes that meet retailer requirements.
This is just one story out of the 240 projects that Bayer has participated in as a valued partner. Like Greenyard, many companies along the food chain don’t have people in the field checking to see if the crops are indeed grown in a sustainable manner, and they rarely have the resources to coach farmers and help them get to that point. Bayer recognized this demand and founded the Food Chain Partnership initiative in 2005 with the aim of implementing best agricultural practices to meet customer requirements for food quality, food safety, and traceability. And for over ten years now, we’ve been a reliable partner to all kinds of stakeholders along the value chain. Growers, exporters, importers, processors, retailers, and, last but not least, consumers have all benefited from these projects.
Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer Division Crop Science
What our partners appreciate
We don’t approach any of our projects with a one-size-fits-all solution, and I feel like that’s our strength. We try to offer tailored advice by listening carefully to the customer’s needs. As a first step, we talk to distributors, retailers, and processors to find out what it is exactly they demand of the produce they’re sourcing. Secondly, as a global company with experienced staff all over the world, we have the opportunity to pass on this knowledge and coach people in operator safety and good agricultural practices. It’s actually this combination — our global coordination paired with local support — that our partners appreciate the most.
In the future, we plan to collaborate with more non-governmental organizations and develop new partnerships to further promote socially and environmentally responsible farming practices. Above all, we need to focus on projects that support smallholder farmers around the globe getting certified — and, thus, bringing the value chain even closer together.
Learn more about Food Chain Partnership here.