24 May 2022, Germany: Pledge commitment to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 for regions within Asia, Africa and Latin America / Pledge includes large commitment of vegetable and rice seeds which form part of the company’s broader sustainability commitments / Bayer will work toward increasing the sustainable productivity for 100 million smallholder farmers through empowerment and access to agricultural products and expertise by 2030
Joining like-minded companies in the private sector, Bayer has signed the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge with a 160 million U.S. dollar commitment dedicated to help end global hunger. The Pledge, in the context of the UN Food Systems Summit of 2021 and as a part of the Summit’s Zero Hunger Coalition, recognizes the need for governments and the private sector to work together to end food scarcity. Companies taking the pledge commit to investing money, resources and expertise in areas of concern within regions where they do business. Bayer’s commitment will go toward communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“At Bayer, where we work every day toward realizing our vision of Health for all, Hunger for none, it’s agonizing to know that one in every 10 people worldwide goes to bed hungry,” said Rodrigo Santos, Member of the Board of Bayer AG and President of the company’s Crop Science Division who will outline Bayer’s commitment during a panel discussion in the Sustainable Development Goals tent at The World Economic Forum in Davos. “This crisis affects us all and needs the support of everyone to solve it. Our pledge further puts into practice Bayer’s commitment to help end hunger through alignment of our investments and business operations to achieve this goal.”
As a global leader in agriculture dedicated to advancing sustainable farming for the benefit of growers, consumers, and the planet, Bayer drives its Zero Hunger Pledge commitments on multiple levels. This includes helping smallholder farmers access seeds which contain the latest technology, educating communities on sustainable agricultural practices, providing growers with farming solutions, and introducing smallholder farmers to new income-generating opportunities.
More than half of Bayer’s investment to be in vegetable seeds and R&D to support smallholder farmers
Smallholder growers play a crucial role in eradicating hunger and high-quality seeds are essential to their ability to produce safe and nutritious food for their communities. Through its pledge, Bayer will invest over 100 million U.S. dollars of its overall commitment into research and development to get quality vegetable seeds into the hands of smallholder farmers. Through Bayer’s Vegetable Seeds business, these farmers will receive improved varieties of quality seeds critical to local diets like okra and bitter gourd. They will also gain access to innovative farming solutions, designed to reduce field and post-harvest losses, such as in the Ansal tomato. This variety provides longer shelf life and fruit firmness which is already helping to decrease losses in India from about 30 percent to less than 10 percent. Donating vegetable seeds to nonprofit organizations is also part of the commitment, to help combat hunger and promote the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Substantial commitment made in hybrid rice solutions
Around 3.5 million smallholder farmers in Asia already benefit from Bayer’s pioneering work on hybrid rice. An additional commitment of over 50 million U.S. dollars for Bayer’s Arize hybrid rice will provide even more growers with seeds designed to improve yield while also optimizing water and nitrogen efficiency. One Arize variety launched in India is already helping growers combat Brown Plant Hopper and Bacterial Leaf Blight, two conditions known to cause huge crop losses. Another hybrid can survive more than two weeks under sustained flood water often faced by farmers in Bangladesh. Bayer is also seeking a solution for growing hybrid rice in high salinity water and when faced with other physical or biological stressors. All varieties are designed to help farmers improve their income levels, livelihood, and their contribution to food security in their communities.
Bayer invests in education, training, R&D, technical assistance
Bayer’s remaining commitment includes investing through partnerships and additional programs. By supporting Better Life Farming, Bayer with partners Netafim and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) will make farming solutions, agronomic advice and good agricultural practices available to rural growers. Partnering with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Bayer, through its pogram BayG.A.P., supports farmers to get certified and connected to the food value chain. And the Modern Breeding Project with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) will use Bayer’s funding to support sustainable practices as well as education and training programs. This project alone is expected to benefit more than 100 million smallholder farmers who grow crops on about 60 million hectares in the humid and semiarid zones of sub-Saharan Africa.
“Teaming up with Bayer helps us with our dedication of promoting agricultural development,” said Dr. Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA. “We hope others will follow their lead in making the Pledge so we can all continue our work toward improving the well-being of others.”
“At Bayer, we will continue to review and re-evaluate ways we can help fight food scarcity,” said Santos. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution in agriculture, but by partnering with growers and others committed to this pledge, we will all have the greatest opportunity to end world hunger.”