Global retail giant Walmart on Thursday said it will invest Rs 181 crore till 2023 to improve the livelihood of Indian farmers in keeping with the government's ambitious goal of doubling farmers' income by 2022.
"Walmart Foundation will invest $25 million to improve farmer livelihoods over the next five years, working beyond our Indian arm's supply chain," said the US-based company in a statement in Bengaluru.
The retail giant would also increase its direct sourcing from farmers to 25 per cent of produce sold in its Cash and Carry stores over the next five years.
"Smallholder farmers are the backbone of the Indian economy, with over 50 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector," said the statement.
As the Indian government has set an ambitious goal of doubling farmers' income by 2022, the global retail firm hopes its initiative would also improve India's food security and boost its economy.
The new funding would expand the company's efforts to develop farmer producer organisations to help raise rural incomes.
"The fund will be used to support farmer organisations in developing knowledge of sustainable farming practices, share business best practices, add value to primary agricultural commodities and improve access to finance and markets," noted the statement.
The Foundation would also work with non-government organisations (NGOs) to support farmer producer groups, develop best practices and demonstration sites across the country.
"Our aim is to empower multiple farmer organisations and connect them into a nationwide farmer-support network," said the statement.
Announcing the funding initiative in Lucknow, Walmart International Chief Executive Judith McKenna said the company would create more opportunities for smallholder farmers with more local sourcing of agri-produce for its supply chain and stores across the country.
"There are huge benefits for communities and customers when we help farmers learn and expand their access to markets," said McKenna at an interaction with small farmers of Kasimpur village in Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli district.
The $500-billion Walmart sources 95 per cent of the goods sold in its best price Cash and Carry stores across the country from local firms and offers access to technical assistance and training programmes to improve farming efficiency.
Asserting that farmers' incomes could grow and in turn create business opportunities for local entrepreneurs, McKenna said the company would also help improve access to quality produce in their villages and surroundings.
"Our game plan is to strengthen the supply chain and local businesses and ensure better life for smallholder farmers and their families," he added.
The Foundation invested $2 million in Tanager to implement the farmer market readiness project in Andhra Pradesh in 2017, providing farmers with knowledge, resources and services to enhance their market-readiness and expand their reach.
The multinational's funding includes $2 million grant to the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Pattancheru in Telangana's Medak district to help small farmers generate more income.
Walmart on August 18 completed its acquisition of 77 per cent equity stake in e-tail major Flipkart for $16 billion (Rs 1,07,662 crore) to create more jobs and business through more supply chains and local sellers, with access to global markets.
Employing 23 lakh people in 11,200 stores across 27 countries the world over, Walmart caters to a whopping 265 million customers, with 2.2 million associates, worldwide.