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Better Life Farming to Unlock Full Farming Potential of Asian Rice Smallholders

In Asia, Better Life Farming – an alliance of leading private-sector companies – will develop sustainable and scalable business models with global and local partners to improve rice smallholders’ livelihoods and food security.

Singapore, October 15, 2018: - Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. By 2050, the demand for rice will be double from what the world is producing today. More than 90% of the world’s rice supply is produced in Asia by predominantly smallholder farmers. For these smallholders, rice is not just food; it is also their main source of livelihood.

Smallholders are particularly vulnerable to many existential threats, including adverse climate impacts, pests and crop diseases, poor infrastructure, rural migration, fluctuating commodity prices, and regulatory barriers. They also have limited access to modern agricultural practices and technology and to finance and markets. Because of these challenges, they can often only realize a fraction of their potential productivity.

On October 15, 2018, Bayer, International Finance Corporation (IFC, a member of the World Bank Group), Netafim, and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions along with local partners launched Better Life Farming for rice-growers in Asia at the International Rice Congress in Singapore.

Better Life Farming is an alliance of leading private-sector companies providing holistic and innovative solutions in developing economies that enable smallholders to unlock their farming potential. By connecting global expertise with local insights and partners, Better Life Farming offers advanced agricultural practices, seeds, precision irrigation, crop protection, finance, insurance, digital technologies, and access to markets, each customized to fully address smallholders’ needs at scale. Better Life Farming’s strength lies in its long-term commitment to join smallholders on their journey to sustainably produce more food, grow resilient farm businesses, and improve their livelihood.

How does it work?

  • High-quality input and technology: Farmers are provided with advanced technologies in the areas of seeds, crop protection, and fertilizers. We introduce machinery which solves the problem of labor shortages and also introduce a sustainable way of farming.
  • Training and advice: Better Life Farming introduces many good agricultural practices to increase the production of rice, such as land preparation, integrated crop management, application technology, and safe input use. One unique part of the training is “Farming as a Business,” which guides farmers to an entrepreneurial mind-set by managing their farming activities in a more professional way. Field officers are available as advisors to the farmers.
  • Market access and fair prices: Better Life Farming collaborates with different partners to ensure transparency in the value chain, with the aim of offering fair prices for produce.
  • Access to finance, insurance and risk transfer: Better Life Farming enables smallholder farmers through education to better access our partners’ finance, insurance, and risk transfer products.

Since starting rice pilots in 2017, Better Life Farming in Asia has seen great results from its pilot programs in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, working in selected geographies with underserved smallholders. With all programs we were able to improve yield and net income for smallholder farmers in comparison to current farmer practices in the specific regions. In Bohol Philippines, productivity increases resulted in up to 57% more yield and 170% more income for farmers while in Banten, Indonesia 27.1% incremental yield and 73% increase of net income could be achieved.

Sharing his experiences, Henry Cambangay, a smallholder rice farmer from Philippines Bohol, says: “One challenge that I had in my field is the damage brought about by pests and the changing weather brought about by climate change. I would like to thank Better Life Farming who helped the small farmers here in Bohol.”

In 2018, Better Life Farming provides access to advanced agricultural and farm business knowledge, practices, and technology, supported by dedicated field officers, and also accommodates access to sustainable and viable financing sources as well as to stable markets with fair price, through partnerships with offtakers and banks. The solutions are being offered to almost 9,000 farmers in 2018. Better Life Farming aims to increase its scale while continuing to create a meaningful impact on the smallholders’ lives in the coming years.

Lino Dias, Global Head Smallholder Farming at Bayer, emphasizes the importance of partners and highlights the strength of the alliance: “We want to support smallholders because we truly believe that empowering them to unlock their farming potential is crucial to achieve food security. An ecosystem of strong partners working with the farmers with a transformational mind-set has proven to improve farmers’ productivity and net income. Better Life Farming brings partners together to address farmers’ needs holistically. We believe our approach contributes to a better life not only for farmers but also for their families and their communities.”

Juerg Trueb, Head Environmental & Commodity Markets at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions says the Better Life Farming initiative offers unique possibilities: "By joining forces with our Better Life Farming partners, we can provide smallholder farmers with crop insurance, which in turn allows them to access finance and buy better seeds and fertilizer – key drivers for increased productivity. Therefore insurance not only gives farmers peace of mind against unseasonal weather but also enables prosperity for them and their families."

Media Contacts


Malee Jaeng-arun, Communications Manager

Tel. +66 2232 7017
E-mail: malee.jaeng-arun@bayer.com

Bayer: lynn.ong@bayer.com, felicia.yeo@bayer.com

IFC: e.price@ifc.org

About Better Life Farming alliance

The Better Life Farming alliance aims to help ensure more safe, nutritious, and affordable food for the growing world population, advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of “ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.” The efficient use of available resources, such as water, fertilizer, and energy, will empower growers to produce higher quality crops, generate higher incomes, and make farming attractive for future generations so that rural communities can prosper. For more information about the alliance and its work with smallholders please visit www.betterlifefarming.com.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth, and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.

About IFC

IFC, a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. They work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, they delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About Netafim

Netafim is the global leader in precision irrigation for a sustainable future. With 29 subsidiaries, 17 manufacturing plants, and 4,500 employees worldwide, Netafim delivers innovative, tailor-made solutions to millions of farmers, from smallholders to large-scale agricultural producers, in over 110 countries. Founded in 1965, Netafim pioneered the drip revolution, creating a paradigm shift toward precision irrigation. Today, Netafim provides diverse precision irrigation solutions for agriculture, greenhouses, landscaping, and mining, accompanied by expert agronomic, technical, and operational support. Netafim is also leading the way in digital farming for irrigation, integrating monitoring, analysis, and automation into one state-of-the-art system. Specializing in end-to-end solutions from the water source to the root zone, Netafim delivers turnkey irrigation and greenhouse projects, supported by engineering, project management, and financing services. Learn more at www.netafim.com.

About Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions provides risk transfer solutions to large and mid-sized corporations around the world. Its innovative, highly customized products and standard insurance covers help to make businesses more resilient, while its industry-leading claims service provides additional peace of mind. Our Food and Agriculture Business team provides a comprehensive array of innovative risk transfer solutions like crop shortfall covers, weather index, and revenue hedges, to clients along the agricultural supply chain. We also serve farmers directly through corporate agribusinesses and other distribution partners. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions serves clients from over 50 offices worldwide and is backed by the financial strength of the Swiss Re Group. Visit corporatesolutions.swissre.com.