Feeding the world’s growing population is one of the biggest development challenges we face. Estimates show there will be thirty percent more people living—and eating—in the world in 2050 than there are today. With much of that population growth coming in Africa and Southeast Asia, the role of the regions’ 450 million smallholder farmers will be more critical than ever.
“Business as usual is not an option anymore,” IFC’s Sergio Pimenta told a crowd Friday morning during a Spring Meetings event to introduce the Better Life Farming Alliance. “The future of agriculture requires new and pioneering partnerships.”
Better Life Farming is just that—bringing together IFC, Bayer Crop Science, the global insurance company Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, and Netafim, a leader in drip irrigation technology. The goal is to develop sustainable business models for reaching millions of smallholder farmers by 2030 with access to financing, healthy seeds, crop insurance, and education in everything from agricultural best practices to marketing and entrepreneurship.
Two farmers who have already benefitted from the program boarded planes for the first time to join the launch discussion.
“Previously, I only harvested three to four times per hectare,” rice farmer Henry Gurang Cambangay of the Philippines said through an interpreter. “But because of good seeds and the right training and protection, I have harvested six to eight times. All of this is because of…the support of the field officers and technicians who have trained us and taught us to do the right things.”
Ruth Kajuju M’irura, a smallholder maize farmer from Kenya, juggles responsibilities for her farm with raising her five children as well as a niece and nephew. Since she joined the Better Life pilot program, she has learned that there are ways to improve her yield and make life better for herself and her children.
“Now I have dreams.”