Walmart India and the Walmart Foundation have deepened their commitment to smallholder farmers in India. The Walmart Foundation, working beyond the Walmart India supply chain, will invest US$25 million (approximately Rs. 180 crores) to improve farmer livelihoods over the next five years. Separately, Walmart India will grow its direct sourcing from farmers to 25 percent of produce sold in its Cash & Carry stores over the same period.
Smallholder farmers are the backbone of the Indian economy, with more than 50 percent of the total workforce employed in the sector. In an effort to improve food security in India and boost the overall economy, the Indian government has set an ambitious goal to double farmers’ income by 2022.
The new funding from the Walmart Foundation expands its ongoing efforts to develop and scale strong farmer producer organizations to help raise rural incomes. The new funds will be used to support farmer organizations to develop knowledge of sustainable farming practices, share business best practices, add value to primary agricultural commodities and improve access to finance and markets.
The Walmart Foundation will work with well-established non-government organizations to support farmer producer groups and develop best practices and demonstration sites that can be shared across India. The aim is to eventually empower multiple farmer organizations and connect them into a nationwide farmer-support network.
In a separate bid to accelerate market access improvements and reduce transportation costs for producers, Walmart India has pledged to work towards sourcing 25 percent of produce in its Best Price Cash & Carry stores directly from farmers. It also will seek to source from a local farmer producer organization in every state where it has stores.
Making the announcement in Lucknow today while meeting local farmers and touring a vegetable farm in Kasimpur village, Judith McKenna, president and chief executive officer of Walmart International, said: “We’re pleased to help create more opportunities for smallholder farmers in India through Walmart’s strengthened commitment to local sourcing and the Walmart Foundation’s US$25 million investment to support local farmer producer organizations. There are incredible benefits for our communities and our customers when we help give farmers opportunities to learn and expand their access to markets. Farmers’ incomes can grow and they can create new business opportunities for local entrepreneurs and help improve access to high-quality produce in their villages and beyond. All of this adds up to a stronger supply chain, stronger local businesses and better lives for smallholder farmers and their families. We are proud to be a part of that.”
Walmart sources 95 percent of the goods sold in its Best Price Cash & Carry stores in India from local companies and offers access to technical assistance and training programs to improve farming efficiency. The Walmart Foundation broadens this effort to address more systemic barriers that prevent farmers from increasing their productivity and market access.
In 2017, the Walmart Foundation invested US$2 million in Tanager to implement the Farmer Market Readiness Project in India’s Andhra Pradesh State, providing farmers with the knowledge, resources and services to enhance their market-readiness and expand their reach.
The US$25 million commitment announced today includes a recently announced grant of close to US$2 million to support International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to help smallholders generate more income.
Further reinforcing Walmart’s commitment to India, in August the company completed its investment in Flipkart group. This supports the growth of India’s economy as the company creates new jobs and business opportunities through strengthened supply chains, local seller development and access to global markets.