In the fifth annual Shared Value Awards, The Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Promoting Rural Incomes through Support for Markets in Agriculture (PRISMA) and partner Corteva Agriscience won the Shared Value Collaboration of the Year Award from the Shared Value Project for their ongoing work in Indonesia with corn farmers. The awards acknowledge Asia Pacific organisations using shared value to deliver on their purpose of solving social and environmental issues.
There are more than 370,000 corn farmers in three districts of Madura Island off the coast of East Java. Based on PRISMA’s Impact Assessment in 2017, 75 per cent of those farmers were living off less than USD 5.50 a day.
More than three-quarters of those farmers use local seed varieties and are often reluctant to invest in better-quality seed. Culturally, they perceive corn as a staple commodity rather than seeing its potential as a cash crop. These economic and social barriers have ultimately led to the failure of several commercial efforts made by private seed producers and disincentivised them from considering Madura as a potential market for expansion.
With minimal educational and promotional activities by seed producers, Madura farmers struggled to access and adopt quality hybrid corn seed leading to low productivity and incomes below what they could be. As the population across Indonesia rapidly grows, food production needs to increase, and farmers have an opportunity to improve their livelihoods through better farm techniques.
PRISMA and Corteva Take on Food Security
In 2016, PRISMA and Corteva teamed up in a strategic partnership to address corn farmers’ productivity and profitability in areas where planting productivity is lower than the national average, such as in Madura.
Based on Corteva’s experience and success with their hybrid corn seed technology, the two organisations estimated that when combined with Good Agriculture Practices (GAP), the hybrid seeds could increase yields by 130 per cent on average for Madura farmers.
With PRISMA’s market insights and facilitation support to reach a wider audience, Corteva not only introduced hybrid corn seeds to the Madura market, but collaborated with local government officials and stakeholders to promote the initiative and GAP knowledge sharing. The partnership provided training on corn GAP to farmers and government field staff and introduced financial institutions to the value chain to offer loans to the farmers.
In the first two years, the initiative succeeded in benefitting 13,589 farmers by switching to hybrid corn seeds. This has increased their yield by 1.3 times and increased their income by 170 per cent. On the commercial side, this initiative has succeeded in increasing Corteva’s sales of hybrid corn seeds by 278 per cent.
For Masiroh, a female corn farmer in Madura who participated in Corteva’s program, the profits from her improved crops have not only helped her family but inspired others in her community.
“The program taught me how to cultivate hybrid corn which enabled me to make profits from my farming,” she says. “My greatest achievement has been to realise my daughter’s dream to study engineering and become an engineer.”
“With my success story, I’ve inspired 32 other female growers to take on farming with hybrid corn seeds.”
Before 2016, the adoption of hybrid corn seed in Madura was only around 10 per cent, compared to 90 per cent by farmers on the East Java mainland. Since the initiative started, farmers’ adoption rate of corn hybrid seed in Madura has increased to 14 per cent, where Corteva contributes 33 per cent of the total hybrid seed market share. The team believes that the initiative has reached the critical point where it is now likely to self-sustain.
According to Suandi Darmawan, PRISMA Head of Portfolio for Maize, the initiative will have a significant impact on maize farming performance and further strengthen food security in Indonesia. “Partnerships with the private sector like Corteva aim to help farmers reach optimal productivity and increase the grain supply for fulfilling unmet demands.”
He adds that in some areas of the country, corn is a daily staple in diets.
Winning Shared Value Collaboration and Next Steps
This year, the Shared Value Awards acknowledged organisations using shared value strategies to create socio-economic solutions and tackle the crises of 2020.
“Amidst an extraordinarily disruptive year for people and business, the companies and individuals recognised have shown courage and commitment in how they are pioneering positive change,” says Shared Value Project CEO Helen Steel.
In addition to the impact the partnership has had, Darmawan believes that the award has further solidified the relationship with Corteva.
“As a third party, the Shared Value Project committee acknowledges and values the importance and influence of the initiative, which includes farming technology, innovative strategies and approaches, the partnership itself, and the working relationship with the private partner and the overall outcomes we’ve achieved.”
The award comes at a time when PRISMA and Corteva are analysing how to scale their project beyond Madura Island. Leveraging the best practices utilised in Madura in reaching marginalised farmers through rural marketing and inclusive strategies, the team has identified potential areas to scale the initiative to reach a broader scope of farmers at the national level. The hope to reach 57,000 farming households by 2023.
For Darmawan, this is just the beginning: “The award gives us motivation and encouragement to continue developing stronger and deeper partnerships with Corteva and other potential private companies.”
Katharina Cavano is the author of this piece who is currently serving as the Content Writer at Palladium. Her original writing can be accessed on Palladium’s website or through clicking the link here.