June 22, 2020
Rice and corn seed producer Bayer Crop Science (BCS) is targeting by 2021 to reach 100,000 Filipino farmers who will migrate to using highly profitable hybrid seeds resistant to diseases so as to enjoy yield gain of 50 to 130%, grossing P200,000 per hectare for rice.
Through partnerships with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in technical training of farmers and with others stakeholders (farmers’cooperatives, seed distributors, financiers), BCS believes the target is reasonable.
The number is an increase from the 60,000 farmers it has so far helped to step up to using the high-yielding seeds since its first launch of its online agriculture training site Bayer Agricademy.
The hybrid business is part of its aim to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These include “zero hunger” (Goal 2) as one in 9 people in the world are undernourished. The other goal is “no poverty” (Goal 1)—providing everyone healthcare, security, and education.
“In the Philippines, the average landholdings for farming is less than 2 hectares and it could barely support the needs of a family of five, which is also the national average,” according to BCS.
Given the technology and financial aid they need to succeed in rice and corn farming, it is foreseen that mostly family-run farming businesses will contribute significantly to economic growth from the grassroots, from the countryside.
“Of the estimated, 550 million smallholder farmers worldwide, it’s estimated that 97 percent work on farms that are smaller than 10 hectares and produce more than 80 percent of the food in developing countries. These farms are often family-run businesses that have a long history in the communities where they live.”
Hybrid seeds can substantially raise yield and income attributable to traits such as disease resistance from Asiatic corn borer and the now emerging fall armyworm (FAW) in corn farms nationwide.
From the usual three to five metric tons (MT) per hectare, BCS’s FAW resistant corn variety Dekalb 8919S has posted an all-time record high harvest of 14.85 MT in a hectare. It was specifically in a yield competition co-administered by the DA in Compostela Valley.
Another Bayer superior corn variety, the Dekalb 8899S, recorded 13.38 MT per hectare in the same competition in Davao City.
For the Arize Bigante hybrid rice, farmers have been experiencing up to 2x increase in yield from the average four MT per hectare from inbreds to at least seven to eight MT per hectare from hybrids. It enables farmers to double gross earnings from P100,000 to P200,000.
While encouraging many farmers to step up to learning hybrid seed farming, BCS parent firm Bayer Philippines Inc. also has a crop relief programs to famers all over the world.
Through this initiative, Bayer plans to help up to two million smallholder farmers that provide food security to tens of millions of families in vulnerable communities.
Through its new “Better Farms, Better Lives” initiative, Bayer will complement its current commitment to support smallholder farmers in key countries by donating seeds and crop protection inputs. It will provide farmers assistance with market access and support for health and safety needs.
The donations help boost food security by supporting up to two million smallholder farmers facing increased challenges as a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic
“To assist smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America who are facing additional challenges resulting from COVID-19, Bayer, as part of its societal engagement activities.”
“Better Farms, Better Lives” is in line with Bayer’s overall aspiration to help build a world where there is Health for All, Hunger for None.
“Smallholder farmers are essential to providing food security to billions of people, but the on-going COVID pandemic is placing extra challenges on their ability to produce food for their communities and beyond,” said Liam Condon, President of Bayer’s Crop Science Division.
“In this critical time, our hope is that our Better Farms, Better Lives initiative, additional support and partnerships with local and global NGOs will not only result in resiliency for smallholders but will also ensure this current health and economic crisis does not turn into a hunger crisis.”
The COVID pandemic has caused logistical issues for many farmers globally due to enforced lockdowns which has limited access to seeds, crop protection inputs and labor. As a result of disruptions to food supplies, consumers may ultimately see higher food prices, ironically at a time when many farmers are seeing reduced incomes due to disruptions in the supply chain and the subsequent lack of market access.
Bayer is committed to helping more than 100 million smallholder farmers in developing countries by 2030. 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.
Additionally, in collaboration with others and to ensure the greatest successful impact for smallholders, Bayer will work and expand its partnerships with governments, internationally recognized NGOs (non-government organizations) and local organizations; create a Smallholder Center of Excellence for sharing successes; provide accelerated access to digital farming tools to increase capabilities; scale up existing and new value chain partnerships and further expand value chain partnerships across Asia-Pacific countries.
The Better Life Farming Care Packages will be tailored to specific local needs and may include seeds for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, rice and corn to sustain livelihoods, crop protection products, personal protective equipment and safety and training materials. For more information on Bayer’s “Better Lives, Better Farms” initiative and its commitment to smallholder farmers, visit http://www.bayer.com. Melody Mendoza Aguiba/Bryan B. Rivera