Walmart Foundation Aug. 27 announced that it has provided $4.8 million in grants to Digital Green and TechnoServe in India as a way to help deepen its commitment to improving farmer livelihoods in the country.
The grants will enable programs that help smallholder farmers have access to agriculture technology, training on sustainable farmer methods, enhanced access to formal markets, and skill and capacity building for farmer producer organizations, the organization said in a news release.
The Walmart Foundation’s grant of $1.3 million to Digital Green will help develop “Farmstack,” a digital data platform designed to provide better services for and enhance the livelihoods of Andhra Pradesh farmers, specifically targeting lower-income communities in farmer producer organizations.
"The Walmart Foundation's support furthers our mission of using digital tools to amplify the impact for smallholder farmers, who are the backbone of India's agri-economy. We're grateful for the opportunity to work with smallholder farmers in improving their own livelihoods and those of others in their community, in a manner that’s nutrition-sensitive, climate-resilient, and inclusive," Vinay Kumar, managing director of Asia at Digital Green, said.
TechnoServe will use its $3.5 million grant to help develop and train up to 20 FPOs and facilitate market linkages by setting up procurement and aggregation systems. The program will also focus on training women smallholders to help expand their market options, as well as extend support to smallholder farmers on sustainable agriculture practices. With this funding, TechnoServe aims to boost incomes for 25,000 farmers, 50 percent of whom will be women.
"Increasing farmer incomes is a powerful call to action. Sustainable agricultural practices, market linkages, and effective management at the FPO level can boost smallholder farmers’ inclusion, incomes, and livelihoods across India. With the support of the Walmart Foundation, we look forward to building on our decade-long experience creating lasting change in the country’s agricultural sector,” said William Warshauer, CEO of TechnoServe.
These grants are a part of the Walmart Foundation’s commitment made in September 2018 to contribute $25 million over the next five years to improve farmer livelihoods in India.
Separate from this commitment, Walmart India also announced it would grow its direct sourcing from farmers to 25 percent of produce sold in its Cash & Carry stores by 2023, the foundation said.
With the foundation’s announcement, it has contributed over $10 million toward its $25 million goal. These grants are expected to create a meaningful impact to more than 81,000 farmers, including more than 29,030 women farmers in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, it said.
Walmart.org, through the combined philanthropic efforts of both Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, recognizes the challenges smallholder farmers face in sustainably growing their production and in forging linkages to finance, infrastructure and markets.
As such, Walmart.org is working to address systemic barriers that prevent smallholder farmers and FPOs in India, Mexico and Central America from increasing their access to markets and improving their livelihoods as well as creating opportunity for entrepreneurship in South Africa, the release said.
The announcements were made at the ‘Strengthening Agri Systems: Road to supporting smallholder farmers and boosting incomes’ Summit,’ which was jointly organized by Walmart.org and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.
The event was inaugurated by Rameswar Teli, minister of state for Food Processing Industries at the government of India.
Delivering the event's keynote address Teli said, “I laud Walmart for its ($25 million) commitment towards strengthening the Indian farm sector. The private sector is playing a strong role in aiding development in the agriculture and food processing sectors. These will play a major role in the Government's vision of doubling farmer incomes by 2022."
Vivek Aggarwal, joint secretary and CEO-PM KISAN, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare for the government of India, who was also present, added: “All stakeholders, across the private and public sectors, must work together to enable better prices for farmers and help them access markets across India. This will necessitate the intervention of private sector players, and for India’s FPO movement to prioritize remunerative prices for the farming community.”