One-stop farming shops in India are where smallholder farmers can get all the tools they need.
How do you provide year-round financial security to farmers? That's a challenge that we're tackling across our global operations at Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Our agricultural development team in India has been looking at solutions to maximize the resources available to our barley farmers in Haryana and Rajasthan by providing them year-round access to the supplies, tools, and information they need to succeed.
But the direct impact of doing this is that we're better able to ensure stable livelihoods and financial security for the farmers themselves through greater access to agricultural resources needed for stronger yields.
Using the SAB (South African Breweries) Research and Development centre in Neemrana City, Rajasthan, our Ag Development team were able to determine that mechanization had become a serious barrier for farmers to achieve year-round production and successful yields, while training and upskilling were also a key part of enabling financial empowerment. In 2018 so far, we've trained 3,268 barley farmers in the region.
As most farmers don't have access to the basic tools they need, our one-stop shops allow them to rent the machinery necessary, allowing for a more consistent income during low-production months.
The Indian Agricultural Development team has partnered with local nonprofits and global partners like TechnoServe, in order to deliver even more support to farmers through health, sanitation, and education training – all of which have been revealed to be massive barriers for community development.
Aware that one-stop shops for farmers can only go so far, the AB InBev teams in India also launched the Kitchen Garden Initiative, which provides leftover arable space to farmers and their families, in order for them to grow edible, nutritious crops for their children, and to help them save money.
It's clear that when we are looking for scalable, viable ways to improve farmer livelihoods and ensure better crop production, technology provides us with some accelerated answers.
Ankit Agrawal from the Ag Development team revealed how, looking to a tech-fuelled future, they hope that all of our Indian barley farmers in the region can be connected via a SmartBarley app: a digital innovation that would have massive economic potential, given that already 98% of our farmers surveyed have mobile phones, while approximately 60% of our farmers have smartphones.
If all our smallholder farmers in India can have access to smartphone technology, they can then leapfrog an entire era of technological development, in a similar way to how countries from Nigeria to Ethiopia have embraced mobile banking — skipping bricks-and-mortar banks altogether and going straight to fintech. Accelerating change at that level is incredible exciting for us as the world's largest brewer.
This November, we're launching five new one-stop shops in Haryana and Rajasthan. That means, by next year, 500 more farmers will have access to critical tools and fertilizers.
When we eliminate barriers to the basic tools for agricultural production, we can fast-track, not only our production as a business, but the financial empowerment of all those involved across our value chain.
This is just the first, key step in a longer-term process of allowing all those in our supply chain to be owners in their own right---as we believe it's vital to empower everyone in our business to be decision-makers in creating the products we can be proud of.