Underscoring the importance of smallholder farmers to India’s pandemic recovery, the Walmart Foundation today announced two new grants as part of a commitment made in September 2018 to invest US$25 million (approximately Rs. 180 crores) over five years in improving farmer livelihoods in India. The new funding, which totals $4.5 million, will allow non-profits Tanager and PRADAN to further scale their efforts to help farmers earn more from improved output and fair market access. Both grantees will focus on increasing opportunities for women farmers via farmer producer organizations (FPOs).
With these two new grants, the Walmart Foundation has invested a total of $15 million with eight non-government organizations (NGOs) in India, supporting programs designed to impact more than 140,000 farmers, including nearly 80,000 women farmers, to date.
Kathleen McLaughlin, president of Walmart Foundation and executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Walmart Inc., said: “The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressure on India’s farmers, especially women farmers shouldering extra responsibilities in the household while seeing their incomes diminish overnight. We at the Walmart Foundation and our grantee partners are focused on supporting farmers to increase their resilience and sustainability for a better future.”
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart Group chief executive officer and a member of the Walmart Foundation Board of Directors, said: “There is huge potential for innovative technology solutions to help farmers in India improve productivity and yield, access valuable market information and succeed as part of a more efficient and transparent supply chain. FPOs are key to the Foundation’s strategy for empowering farmers and bringing them into the digital era.”
Through its grants, the Walmart Foundation works with well-established NGOs that support FPOs to develop their capabilities and scale to more members. The overall aim is to help FPOs develop knowledge of sustainable farming practices, share business best practices, add value to primary agricultural commodities and improve access to finance and markets.
NGOs and their FPO partners proved critical during India’s COVID-19 lockdown and are a key part of the nation’s ongoing recovery. With the support of the Walmart Foundation, they were able to mobilize to meet urgent needs for food and hygiene supplies, organize safe sales channels, support harvesting operations, and continue with training programs and initiatives promoting farming diversity and climate-smart production practices by moving them to digital platforms.
New grants to support women farmers
In the latest round of Walmart Foundation grants, international non-profit organization Tanager will receive more than $2.6 million to extend its successful Farmer Market Readiness Program and help farmers in Andhra Pradesh further expand their knowledge, resources and reach. Phase 2 of the program will focus on strengthening the sustainability of 13 FPOs, 7 of which are new to the program, in order to help more than 15,000 farmers, including more than 5,600 women farmers, increase their productivity and profitability.
Phase 1 of the Farmer Market Readiness Program was implemented between 2017 and 2020 with a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation that is not included in the $25 million commitment. According to Tanager, Phase 1 equipped 17,500 farmers, including more than 5,600 women farmers, to increase their yields and market their produce, resulting in sales of over 8,500 metric tons of produce worth roughly $3 million (220 million INR).
“Support for smallholder farmers and FPOs is essential for economic growth in India. With grant funding support from the Walmart Foundation, Tanager will continue to improve access to markets for farmers in Phase 2 of the program, while expanding to include new crops and streams of income and also providing support to farming families during COVID-19. Our ultimate aim is to develop FPOs into sustainable businesses that can thrive beyond the life of the project,” Amit Kumar Singh, Tanager team lead, India, said.
Delhi-based non-profit Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) will use its Walmart Foundation grant of $1.9 million to launch its Livelihood Enhancement through Market Access and Women Empowerment (LEAP) program in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand in eastern India. LEAP will focus on supporting women to work together in FPOs to adopt new farming practices, diversify and intensify their output, and embark on profitable farming-related businesses.
With a focus on supporting women farmers from tribal populations and vulnerable groups, PRADAN’s Walmart Foundation-funded LEAP program is expected to reach out to 45,000 women farmers directly benefiting a population of about 225,000 people.
“The Walmart Foundation and PRADAN share a vision of building sustainable communities by creating opportunities for marginalised people. With Project LEAP, we are working together to empower women farmers from remote geographies to set up FPOs and help them leapfrog to the modern economy via robust and fair commodity value-chains,” Narendranath Damodaran, executive director, PRADAN, said.