Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy. With more than 1.3 billion people, India is the second most populous country on earth and a leading nation in plantation crops. But its vast potential has not been fully exploited. Bayer organizes BayG.A.P. facilitator training to support smallholder farmers in implementing sustainable agricultural practices.
BayG.A.P. training in India: More than 32 project officers and nine GLOBALG.A.P. farm assurers have been trained – who can now train farmers in good agricultural practices.
India is the second largest producer of rice, wheat, and sugarcane worldwide, and many people there depend on farming to make a living. Agriculture in India is mainly run by smallholders; even though about 85 percent of the farms belong to this category, they own only 45 percent of the total cultivated land. What sounds promising is actually becoming less and less important as agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is continuously declining: from more than 50% of the country’s GDP in the 1950s, agriculture’s contribution dropped to just 17% in 2015–16. This, however, is only one side of the coin, because agriculture’s value contribution has been increasing – with 58% of rural livelihoods in India directly dependent on farming.
Need for change in Indian agriculture
The methods of Indian agriculture are very resource-intensive: water resources are used inefficiently, desertification and land degradation have become a major threat to agriculture and a serious sustainability issue. This makes rethinking classic farming with an eye toward more sustainable practices inevitable. With the BayG.A.P. Service Program, local farmers are trained in good agricultural practices and supported on their path to certification – and, ultimately, connected to the food value chain. In September 2018, Bayer held twelve training sessions in India.
So far 32 project officers and 480 farmers in India have been trained in good agricultural practices within the BayG.A.P. program. They learned how to deal with different topics such as integrated pest management, site history, irrigation systems, and waste management as well as the secure use and handling of crop protection products. “The farmers really appreciate the training,” says Sourabh Verma, Food Chain Manager at Bayer India. “With the opening of the world market, control measures need to be strengthened for farms producing raw material such as food grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and floriculture, and more to ensure sustainable supply of produce of desirable quality.” BayG.A.P. takes into account not only quality and quantity of the produce obtained from a unit area but also cares about traceability and documentation, integrated crop solutions, food safety, and more.
Training for long-term and efficient productivity
“We will organize further training sessions this year for another 750 farmers,” says Verma. “It will help to promote good agricultural practices in India, open new ways to international markets even for smallholders, and ensure long-term and efficient productivity.”
Currently, 9,600 farmers in India are GLOBALG.A.P. certified in the fruit and vegetable sectors. “We see the interest of our food chain partners in becoming program owners of certification programs such as GLOBALG.A.P. to ensure sustainable supply of food to the consumer,” says Pankaj Sharma, Head of Food Chain Partnership in India. Our BayG.A.P. program complements that by fulfilling the need of an evolving value chain in India.”
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