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Axis Bank Partners with Bayer’s Better Life Farming Initiative in India to Provide Better & Holistic Financial Solutions to Farmers

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo
bayer farming
Bayer's Better life farming centre

Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank has partnered with Bayer’s Better Life Farming initiative in India to provide improved and holistic financial solutions to smallholder farmers as well as rural farming communities. Through this partnership, Axis Bank would offer a wide range of end-to-end financial solutions & services such as affordably priced loans, deposits, withdrawals, and payments etc. Digital financial solutions and doorstep delivery of these services would be a vital part of the Bank’s offering to guarantee convenient & hassle-free transactions. These solutions will be provided through Bayer’s Better Life Farming centers that are owned and run either by a Farmer Producer Organization, Federation, agriculture graduate or a local farmer or entrepreneur.

It is important to mention that Better Life Farming (BLF) is a global, multi-stakeholder alliance that works with partners across the agri-value chain to support farmers in developing economies to improve crop yields & farm incomes. Launched in April 2018, Better Life Farming has global partners that include – Bayer with its expertise in seeds, crop protection and agronomy; IFC, the development finance institution for impact assessment; and Netafim for drip irrigation technologies.

BLF has set up small centers across villages to provide farm advisories to the communities. Each BLF center consists of a group of 500 farmers from 5-6 nearby villages where an agri-entrepreneur gives smallholder farmers with access to agri-inputs, crop advisory, irrigation best practices and new technologies. The centers also support aggregation as well as sale of farm produce and operate model farms to share good agricultural practices around crop nutrition, micro-irrigation technologies, mulching etc. & demonstrate safe handling of seed and crop protection products. Moreover, BLF has also helped create local employment opportunities, supported doubling of farmers’ incomes & empowered rural youth to be a part of the agriculture value chain.

better life

D Narain, MD and CEO of Bayer CropScience Limited & Global Lead for Bayer’s Smallholder Farming initiatives said, “Since the launch of Better Life Farming in 2018, we have continuously identified various need-gaps faced by smallholder farmers & roped in partners who can strengthen our offerings to them. Affordable farm credit, farmer financing & digital banking solutions rank as high priorities for rural farming communities. Bayer’s partnership with Axis Bank would help deliver last mile connectivity & create a more inclusive agri eco-system where all smallholder farming needs ranging from agri-inputs, agri-advisory, knowledge and capacity building, market linkages & financial solutions are taken care of under one roof”.

Amitabh Chaudhry, MD and CEO of Axis Bank said, “Axis Bank has made important investments and commitments to empower rural communities & smallholder farmers. To strengthen these objectives further, the Bank has partnered with Bayer to combine forces and work together in addressing the diverse challenges faced by these communities. We have invested in providing end-to-end financial solutions for the agrarian and rural population, which have been built on the backbone of sound digital and technology capabilities to deliver secure financial products and seamless services. This partnership achieves multiple goals including promoting rural entrepreneurship and delivering holistic financial solutions under one roof, at the doorstep of the rural community.''

The BLF initiative has led to a doubling of crop yields and tripling of farm incomes among participant farmers in India. It has also created price transparency in the marketplace, increased the bargaining power of smallholders and promoted clusters of rural agri-entrepreneurs running their own Better Life Farming centers. The BLF initiative is supporting these agri-entrepreneurs to operate like business owners, thus increasing their sales, revenues and profitability. Through its gender-smart approach, BLF initiative has integrated women smallholders into mainstream farming operations by economically & socially empowering them as producers and entrepreneurs.

At present, more than 150 BLF centers are operational in the country in the states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand with plans to expand to West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. By 2025, the BLF initiative aims to empower 2.5 million smallholder farmers in India by offering them access to modern agri-inputs and improving their standard of living.

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