Bayer has renewed its commitment to the “Bridging the Seed Gap” project for five years. The project, developed by the non-profit organization Fair Planet, facilitates smallholder farmers’ access to seeds of high-quality vegetable varieties suited to local growing conditions. Additional training on how to use these seeds sustainably and with minimal changes to traditional production practices helps the farmers improve their incomes based on significantly better harvests. The increase in income opens the door for better education and a better future for the next generation.
The collaboration between Bayer and Fair Planet started in 2015, and has supported the creation of three Vegetable Excellence Centers, where a range of seed varieties most suitable to Ethiopian conditions were identified and evaluated. Under the renewed agreement, Bayer will provide Fair Planet, free of charge, with high-quality hybrid vegetable seed varieties and agronomic knowledge from its recently acquired De Ruiter and Seminis vegetable seed businesses.
“As the leading company in the agriculture sector, we support small-scale farming all over the world,” explains VK Kishore, Head of Vegetable Seeds Breeding and Testing for the Europe, Middle East, and African region at Bayer. “Smallholder farmers can have an exponential impact in eradicating hunger. Through the ‘Bridging the Seed Gap’ project, smallholder farmers can help their communities so that the more rural areas can thrive. Kudos to Fair Planet for everything they have achieved so far in Ethiopia.”
Dr. Shoshan Haran, Founder and Operations Manager of Fair Planet: “Fair Planet is excited about the continuation of the partnership with Bayer and the addition of De Ruiter and Seminis seed varieties to our open-aid seed platform. The results of our joint program are astounding: we identified vegetable varieties that can increase farmers’ crop productivity five-fold, while improving produce quality and marketability.”
Together with Haramaya University and the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, Fair Planet developed a unique extension model and trains hundreds of farmers through a “train-the-trainer” concept every year in how to improve farm productivity and profitability. According to Fair Planet, to date more than 50,000 smallholder farmers' households in the project regions have produced more food due to better seeds and improved farming practices. This has led to improved food security and healthier nutrition for their families. Farmers are gradually shifting from subsistence farming to an agribusiness mode of operation, which contributes to sustainable economic growth for them and their families, benefitting more than 250,000 people.